Food for thought

GVL/Luke Holmes

GVL/Luke Holmes

Sanda Vazgec

The life of a college student is a balancing act. With a typical day divided among classes, jobs, student organizations and homework, a student’s wellness can sometimes take a back seat.

Wellness is about being in good physical and mental health and the conscious effort that a person takes to maintain it.

With many different diets and lifestyles claiming to be “the right one,” it can be difficult to understand what it means to be healthy.

“There are many ways to be healthy,” said Jennifer Stewart, associate professor of sociology at Grand Valley State University. “The important thing to remember about any recommendation or guideline is that they are subject to change.”

Grand Valley State University is offering the opportunity for students to learn about their food and how to prepare it through a new series of events called “What to Eat?,” a four-week long, mindful eating workshop that offers a flexible, non-diet approach to eating and self-care.

The workshop is centered on mindfulness, the idea of being aware of emotions, thoughts and actions in the present moment.

Lori Schermers, a registered dietitian and wellness coach, is the facilitator of the workshop. Schermers believes there is power in bringing the mind and body together.

“The workshop incorporates mindfulness in terms of being kind and gentle towards oneself in regards to making changes,” Schermers said. “It’s about getting in touch with what your body is telling you.”

Participants will establish weekly behavioral goals and track their progress throughout the program.

Each week will focus on a different aspect of wellness and provide a new challenge.

The goal of the program is to provide participants with strategies to make a lasting change in the way they approach their wellness.

Wellness recommendations are not one-size-fits-all. A person’s genetics, culture and upbringing can differ from the standard definitions of what it means to be healthy. Getting rest and eating in a way that provides the body with nourishment and energy is important, but a person must determine what that means for themselves, and the series of workshops aims to do just that for students.

“You don’t have to feel guilty about what you eat or what you like to eat,” Stewart said. “What I think is healthy for myself may be totally different than what someone else considers healthy.”

Many students tend to opt for quick meals and fast food because they cannot find the time to cook meals for themselves, which can lead to mindless eating and overeating.

It can also be difficult to buy fresh produce when it is often expensive and goes bad quickly. Learning to preserve food and freeze produce can help lengthen freshness.

“What to Eat?” will address these situations and answer any questions that students have about the food that they’re eating.

The workshop is open to GVSU students only and will be held every Tuesday, beginning Jan. 26, from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. in Kirkhof Center Room 1142.

To register for the program, visit the GVSU campus recreation website at Registration is $20 and financial assistance is available.

If a student cannot commit to the full four weeks, they may arrange to attend an individual session by calling campus recreation at (616) 331-3659.