Vegetarians, athletes request healthier eating options

For sophomore Sofiya Arnaudova, everything changed when she came to Seton Hill University (SHU) in August of 2008. Arnaudova, who grew up in Bulgaria, became a vegetarian when she enrolled at SHU.

By: Jessie Krehlik

News Editor

For sophomore Sofiya Arnaudova, everything changed when she came to Seton Hill University (SHU) in August of 2008. Arnaudova, who grew up in Bulgaria, became a vegetarian when she enrolled at SHU.

It is not uncommon for students’ eating habits to change once they leave home. According to a study conducted at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., few students gain the actual “freshman 15,” but on average, men gain 5.5 pounds while women gain 4.5 pounds during their freshman year.

Shortly after classes began, Arnaudova, who isn’t a fan of salad, noticed her eating options were extremely limited. “I don’t see enough healthy options,” she said. “Even the vegetable soup is made with chicken broth.”

Arnaudova later learned that she could ask the cafeteria workers to prepare special vegetarian meals for her on occasion. “When I can’t find anything to eat, I go in the kitchen and ask for something. The chefs are always helpful and always make me what I want,” Arnaudova explained.

But it still isn’t enough. “I’d like to see more vegetarian options, like fake chicken nuggets or fake kinds of meats,” Arnaudova added. “And stop making the otherwise meatless soups with animal broths.”

As a result, Arnaudova eats a lot of vegetables, especially tomatoes and potatoes. “I also eat cheese sandwiches and drink a lot of water,” she said. Arnaudova, who avoids meat as a statement against animal cruelty, prefers french fries and hash browns to some of the healthier alternatives.

Vegetarians are not the only ones finding it difficult to eat healthily at SHU. “I eat ice cream after every dinner,” said freshman Bri Bush, “but it’s not like I eat a lot.”

Arnaudova is not alone in her quest for healthy alternatives. Nina Gonzalez, an incoming freshman, is making big changes in her school district’s cafeterias. In an interview on Good Morning America, Gonzalez explained that the greasy foods provided in her high school lunch line made herself and her fellow athletes tired and fatigued on big-game days.
After eliminating saturated fats from her diet, Gonzalez noted, “I only saw that I had more energy. I not only performed better but I had more energy.”

Gonzalez convinced her school officials to provide healthier food options as well as a vegetarian option for every lunch.

According to Jay Gordon, a pediatrician, eliminating fatty foods from lunches, such as hamburgers, drastically lowers the amount of saturated fat clogged arteries.

Gonzalez has big plans for SHU. “The food seemed really nice! I want to work on getting a labeling system for vegetarian food there, and possibly getting a few more vegetarian options,” she said.

Nikki Mizrahi, a freshman on the women’s golf team chose SoBe Life Water over Gatorade. “It’s better for you,” she said. “It still has some electrolytes, and doesn’t have any artificial sweeteners. Plus, it tastes great!”
What many college students don’t realize that some “healthy” alternatives aren’t what they appear. Gatorade advertises its value to athletes.

According to the website, Gatorade “delivers a unique formula of sodium, potassium and essential carbohydrates to your muscles and mind during the heat of battle.” Gatorade is meant for athletes who need to consume salt in order to perspire. The average American already consumes too much sodium, so adding Gatorade to the mix does more harm than good.

What Gatorade also fails to mention is the amount of artificial sweeteners used in its recipe.

While Gatorade’s website does have a link to view the label for their various Gatorade products, this label does not include a list of ingredients. However, if you visit Pepsi’s website, Gatorade’s manufacturer, you can find a complete listing of every drink’s ingredients. Although the first ingredient mentioned is “water,” two artificial sweeteners soon follow it: sucrose (table sugar) and dextrose (artificial sweetener).

According to Joseph Mercola, D.O., a nutrition specialist, “artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Nutrasweet are not healthy—or safe.” Sucralose, the main ingredient of Splenda, is mixed with a bulking ingredient, such as high-fructose corn syrup.

Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than Sucrose and has no calories. However, a single cup of Splenda, with the main ingredient being Sucralose, has 96 calories. Consumers often mistake Sucralose for Sucrose as well, because the two sound so similar.

Consumption of excess Sucralose leads to skin irritations, chest pains, mood swings, depression, itchy eyes and gastrointestinal problems.
Gatorade and Powerade shouldn’t be banned from athletic use; however, athletes should keep in mind what they are pumping into their bodies There are some healthy alternatives out there. SoBe Life Water, which is also manufactured by Pepsi, has no artificial sweeteners, but does have 40 calories. However, they also produce a 0-Cal line, which also has no artificial sweeteners, unlike its Gatorade counterparts.

Athletes have more options than they might think when choosing their sports drink. Although SoBe Life water isn’t labeled as a sports drink, it serves as a healthy, artificial sweetener-free alternative. For athletes dedicated to sports drinks, here are some nutrition facts to help make the decision for which drink to stand by:

• Athletes who chose to stick with Gatorade should keep in mind that the original Gatorade G does not contain Sucralose, but one 8 oz. serving has 50 calories. Gatorade G2, which has only 20 calories, does include Sucralose. Both contain the same amount of sodium (110 mg), but Gatorade G2 replaces a lot of its sugar with Sucralose.

• After water, the second ingredient in Powerade is high-fructose corn syrup. Like Gatorade, Powerade contains only 50 calories, but has slightly less sodium. Unlike Gatorade G2, Powerade Zero does not compete as well with regular Powerade. Although Zero has no calories, it also contains about half as much sodium—electrolytes are a necessity for athletes. And, like Gatorade G2, Powerade Zero contains Sucralose.

• Vitamin water contains caffeine and fructose, but has no sodium.

• Aquafina FlavorSplash is not an appropriate alternative to sports drinks either. Although it has no calories, FlavorSplash contains Sucralose, with considerably less sodium.

• SoBe Energize Citrus Energy contains 110 calories, little sodium and all-natural sugars. It also contains high quantities of vitamin C, something not always present in sports drinks. Regular SoBe Life water contains an average of 40 calories, no Sucralose and Vitamins, E, B6 and B12