Peer Health Advisors Hosts ‘Freshman 15’, Panel on Intuitive Eating

Princeton Peer Health Advisors (PHAs) hosted “The Myth Behind the Freshman 15: Intuitive Eating,” a panel on nutrition, food choice and wellness, earlier this month. The session included dietitians and psychologists from Undergraduate Health Services (UHS) and campus dining.

PHAs Jeon Roh ’24, Emily Fernandez ’25, and Chiyoma Ugwonli ’24 Panelists UHS Clinical Dietitian Jessie Chiero, Campus Wellness Dietitian Puneet Sethi, UHS Sports Dietitian Hector H. Martinez, and was joined by UHS psychologist Jessica Chavez. The panellists discussed the common eating habits displayed by the students. Martinez, who works with student-athletes, attests to how the demands of schedules often push students’ eating habits to the bottom of their priorities.

“We consume too much as we go about our day, and nutrition takes a backseat,” Martinez said. “Once we get in [the dining hall]we are more reactive to the day […] We are inclined to grab things fast.

Chiero echoes this sentiment, explaining that because of the “pressure to perform” on students, “eating gets pushed to the side.”

He also said that fad diets, such as clean eating, which limits processed foods and may involve cutting out entire food groups, and intermittent fasting, which limits eating to specific hours of the day, can be difficult for students. Can be incredibly detrimental to nutrition.

Addressing another diet myth that discourages late-night eating, Martinez assured participants that “[y]You can eat after 8 pm,” this elicited laughter from those present.

“When we make our way late in the evening, it does not mean that we are cut, especially if we have been studying till late at night. We need that nourishment in our studies,” he explained.

Fernandez called “The Myth of the Freshman 15.” Took a follow up question about. Chiero was quick to note that the trope is a misinterpretation and an over-generalization of the first-year college experience.

“Age Range [of college] still generally to interpret changes in weight status as not being healthy and normal during the time where you have reached your primary growth spurt … motivated by the idea that the weight you previously That’s the weight you should be,” Chiero said. “But you’re not going to stay at that previous weight.”

Empathy and understanding were a common theme throughout the night, as students reflected on their mutual experiences eating with peers. Michelle Thurber ’26 explained that this was her biggest takeaway from the insight panel.

“The most important thing with food is to recognize that everyone has different habits, so comparing your plate to someone else’s isn’t really helpful,” she said in an interview with ‘Prince’.

The panelists proposed intuitive eating as a way for students to keep these values ​​in mind as they nurture their bodies.

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“The key to eating intuitively is mindfulness, being in the moment and focusing on the food,” shared Sethi. “Working in the dining hall, I see everyone running around on devices […] Then move on to the next thing. To follow our innate hunger and fullness, we need to be mindful.”

Chiero noted the importance of recognizing when you’re truly hungry, versus when you’re turning to food as emotional support.

“Say you’re anxious, tired, dissatisfied or feeling depressed, think about coping strategies other than eating,” he said.

“Food has the ability to reduce the amount of that emotion. It has a dopamine effect. If you’re emotionally charged, and your response is to go to food, you have to think ‘What are my other options? change how we feel emotionally?’” he continued.

The panel is also linked to exercise habits – many students believe they can compensate for poor nutrition with exercise. Chiero rejected this theory, explaining that bodies are dynamic in nature.

“It’s not all calories-in, calories-out. Various things influence nutritional needs and eating behavior beyond compensating through exercise,” he said.

Chavez suggested that students think of exercise not as a means to burn calories, but as a means to relieve stress and find enjoyment.

“If you’re moving and you’re smiling, you’re probably doing something right. It’s an easy checkpoint,” he said.

According to Roh, the event was a collaborative effort for PHAs, who said they wanted to bring information about nutrition and eating to the wider community.

Eric Roll ’24 participated in his capacity as Outreach Chair for Princeton’s Food Allergy and Celiac Team for University Advocacy and Living (FACTUAL). Roll stated that he was not familiar with intuitive eating as a concept, but found it influential in relation to his own eating habits.

“I think living with food allergies, having lived with food allergies my whole life, you are hyper-conscious about certain things that you eat,” he said. “I think intuitive eating is important […] It sure helps you keep in mind […] ‘Hey, you can enjoy the food without those restrictions.'”

The event was held at Laura-Wooten Hall on Wednesday, November 9 at 4:30 p.m.

Izzy Jacobson is a news staff writer and contributor to Prince. Please direct all correction requests to Corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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