Dangerous Desserts?

By Ava Tunnicliffe

Chocolate cake, banana bread, sugar sprinkled muffins, lemon bars, red velvet cake, blondies, brownies and whole pumpkins pies pile high, teasing college students with their tastiness. Such a display and array of goodies is a daily sighting at the McConnell Dining Hall on the Pitzer College campus.

Having so many dessert options is mix of heaven and hell for many Pitzer College first-years. A commonly heard topic echoing among the Pitzer first-year class is the fear of the “freshman 15.”

The freshman 15 is a commonly used term to describe the amount of weight gained in the first year of college. With unlimited food and desserts galore, it’s yet another thing for a freshman to have to worry about.

“[The desserts] are just so hard to resist when they’re right there in front of you,” said San Franciscan freshman Jael Berger. “I grew up eating very healthy and organic home cooked meals. I am glad that I have that option here too, but the difference is what’s on offer after the main meal. At home I’d usually reach for fruit, but with all of the dessert options, I end up wanting a little piece of banana bread instead.”

Pitzer’s McConnell Dining Hall was ranked number seven by Her Campus for having the healthiest college food in America and has received rave reviews from Seventeen Magazine and College Prowler. Pitzer relies heavily on organic and local produce and offers a slew of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. The main course is always healthy, but it’s the desserts that are the tricky part.

The desserts are always miniature size, but some students think it makes things much worse: “It makes me feel like I can take more desserts because they’re smaller,” said first year student Frankie Clarke. She got up to go and look at the desserts and shortly came back with a small piece of a chocolate-glazed brownie, “I’m just going to try to have just one today.”

It’s not only the dining hall desserts that are evoking this fear of the freshman fifteen though. Pitzer’s Activities Club called PAct holds an event every Tuesday night called “Snackie Snack” that gives students a chance to take a break from their homework to go to the Gold Student Center and get free food. Previous “snacks” have included pad thai, New York bagels with cream cheese, glazed doughnuts, gluten-free cookies and 21 Choices frozen yogurt.

However, some people aren’t concerned by the freshman fifteen at all. “Even though there is more food and unhealthier food available, there is also easier access to the gym and more time to work out,” said Isabelle Mullen, a freshman at Pitzer College, “if you are mindful of what you’re eating then you’ll be fine.”

Another first-year student India Downes-Le Guin echoed Mullen’s lack of concern. “I haven’t gained any weight so far,” said Downes-Le Guin, “and I doubt I’m going to suddenly gain 15 pounds before the end of this year.”

An article in the New York Times titled “15 Pounds: Part of Freshman Meal Plan” backs up Downes-Le Guin’s doubts about gaining 15 pounds in one year. The article quoted Dr. Hoffman, a Rutgers University professor of Nutritional Sciences, who said that most people don’t gain the full 15 pounds their freshman year. It’s just called the freshman 15 due to its catchiness as “nobody would pay attention to the freshman 5,”.

Only time will tell whether it will be the freshman five, the freshman 15 or even the freshman zero, but until then, the freshman 15 will remain a major concern for the majority of first-year students.

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