Hogan: Nutritional facts should go

Living in New York City this summer, I was startled by the sudden emergence of Nutrition Facts labels popping up on food items in coffee shops and restaurants. At my favorite gourmet lunch spot, Le Pain Quotidien, I opened the menu to find that their goat cheese and arugula salad contained 530 calories. Somehow the mathematical breakdown of the calorie counts took the lovely Parisian charm out of the whole experience.

When I returned to Yale I found the dining halls cluttered with labels, telling me that one Grilled Chicken Breast Au Poivre with sauce contains approximately 197.24 calories, 7.5 grams of fat and 4.03 grams of carbohydrates, among other things. The nutrition facts help some students make healthier choices during chaotic and rushed mealtimes. For other, more oblivious students, this column might be the first they’ve heard of these labels. But for a surprisingly large number of undergraduates, the nutrition facts glare up at them like dangerous temptations feeding their obsessive thoughts about food, weight and thinness, instigating a battle with numbers and calorie counting that can devolve into the life-threatening diseases of anorexia, bulimia and anorexia athletica. Given that college is a hotbed of eating disorders, Yale should remove these number-heavy signposts from the dining halls and encourage students to develop healthful, intuitive eating habits.

For impressionable freshmen — both girls and boys — entering into undergraduate life can be an overwhelming transition. Food often becomes an unhealthy outlet for dealing with anxiety. Extremes in eating behavior emerge in the contexts of late-night studying, binge drinking and eating in dining halls. Many students begin dieting, restricting food, over-exercising, over-eating and purging during the formative years of college. Under the stresses of paper writing, exams, extracurricular activities, dorm life and open-ended schedules, first-time college students are particularly vulnerable to falling victim to eating disorders.

After puberty, the late teenage years through early 20s is the prime developmental time for the start of eating disorders. The social pressures of making new friends, dating and navigating sexuality can aggravate body image problems and exacerbate the drive to be thin that already runs rampant in contemporary media. Aside from the environmental factors that make undergraduates especially at risk for developing eating disorders, certain personalities are more prone to anorexia and bulimia than others. The perfectionist and Type A behaviors that abound at places like Yale are the same traits that often facilitate eating disorders.

Given the susceptible condition that undergraduates are immersed in, the Yale College administration should take every precaution to ensure that students do not fall prey to eating disorders.

By posting nutrition facts on index cards in front of the serving plates in the dining halls, the University not only encourages the statistics-obsessed behaviors of students already battling eating disorders; it also puts healthy students more at risk for developing obsessive or neurotic eating issues. For incoming freshmen accustomed to home-cooked family dinners and eating freely given their instinctive levels of hunger and fullness, the nutrition facts in the dining halls could be their first awareness of the calorie factor. Flooded by such a numbers-based breakdown of food, students are more prone to slip down paths of dieting and calorie counting. Since more than a third of “normal diets” devolve into pathological dieting, listing the nutrition facts above the hot plates is more destructive than informative.

While some people benefit from knowing the exact caloric content of their food, and while knowing food’s nutritional information can be a reassuring and helpful tool for certain students, the University can still make this information accessible on the Yale Dining Web site. By placing the numbers right in front of the food, the University triggers food restriction in some and promotes a relationship to nutrition based on literal food values instead of on intuitive and balanced eating habits. Harvard undergraduates and parents voiced such complaints about listing calorie information in dining halls before the Harvard University Dining Services opted to remove the index cards from their cafeterias.

The celebrity status of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity speaks volumes to the fact that our dining halls are statistics-conscious. The New York City Board of Health instituted nutrition fact regulations as part of the nationwide fight against obesity, but Yale College is not Manhattan: It only takes a stroll through the Payne Whitney gym at midnight, its treadmills and ellipticals still racing with neurotic students reading textbooks while exercising, to see that Yale is more a landscape of anorexia than of obesity. And since the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders closed last summer due to budget constraints, the resources to help undergraduates overcome eating disorders are harder to come by on campus than ever.

At the least, Yale should take a stand to reduce the environmental factors that might spawn the life-threatening diseases of anorexia, bulimia and other pathological eating problems by removing nutritional information from its dining halls.

Haley Hogan is a senior in Berkeley College.

Comments

  • unsupportive

    This is a terrible idea! Eating disorders may be common in college but two thirds of Americans are also overweight. How can anyone make smart eating decisions when they don't have any nutritional information?

    In high school, kids can at least look at the packaging in their fridge, but in the dining hall there's no way of knowing. Your idea appeals to a very small percentage of people at the school, and while it's important to help them with their disorders, you would be depriving the rest of us.

    Just "forgetting about it" and ignoring the nutritional facts isn't going to prevent students from getting an eating disorder. That's indicative of a larger problem, like the media's influence of a perfect body.

  • Come on

    An outstandingly poor idea. When someone else is cooking for me (and I'm forced to purchase that cooking for two years!) I want to know what the food is composed of. If accurate and clear nutritional information is triggering your anorexia, then don't look at the labels. Really, this is a terrible terrible terrible idea.

  • anonymous

    @#1: "small percentage of people at the school." you would be surprised how many people at Yale struggle from disordered eating at the very least. Two thirds of Americans are overweight, but that number does not hold true for Yale, as Hogan points out in her article.

    Removing caloric information (but still posting it online) would be a good solution to help MANY Yalies (not a tiny minority) battle body image issues. Ingredients, as opposed to the number of calories, should be kept above the food for people with allergies/lactose intolerance.

  • Anonymous

    Agree with #1. This is such a silly position to hold that I can't believe anyone actually believes it. Eating healthy in the dining hall is difficult enough as it is, even WITH the information given, and eating disorders can be fought in other ways than by taking away information from people who are trying to make good health choices. Especially at a time when obesity rates are skyrocketing nationwide. It would be a giant step backward for students' health if the university actually did what is recommended here.

  • Isabella Boltina

    This is a very good idea… Didn't Hogan mention that the nutrition facts would still be available on the dining hall website, for those students who want to know the exact content??

    I think that at a place like Yale, anorexia and bulimia, etc. are much more of an issue than obesity..

    And as Hogan said, it's about NOT triggering more eating disorders by keeping the calorie counts away from the actual food (though still accessible to those who seek it out).

    Do you all really expect kids to memorize the calories of everything they eat and live life that way? There needs to me a reinvention of the whole approach to food in America, and I don't think obsessive calculations is at all sustainable over time.

  • Seriously

    McDonalds favors the posting of nutrition facts online because they know no one will bother to look. Do I now need to carry my laptop to dinner in order to make informed choices about the dining hall offerings? #5: You forget that the mandatory nutritional labeling of packaged food in the US is a recent development. Before the 1990s no one had any idea what they were eating. One day when the apocalypse throws us back into the utopia of raising our own food from seed to plate, then we'll all delight in our new/old relationship to eating (FYI, it will NEVER be this way again, and we should be thankful). So, consumers should be given info so that they can make informed choices. They should not be denied info in some sort of forced psychological trickery aimed at people who suffer from eating disorders. Those afflicted with eating disorders should be offered treatment. Students who are *required* to buy into the Yale meal plan must be given easy point-of-purchase access to nutritional info. I want to know what I'm putting in my body, I want to know what it's made of and how it's prepared and I appreciate the dining staff's recent commitment to offering that information. Hogan badly misunderstands the intersection of nutrition and public policy, reveals herself as ignorant of the hard-fought advances in informed eating over the last two decades, and frankly speaks from a position which is shamefully self-envolved

  • fatter

    I honestly have to disagree with this article, which I think has good intentions. While I agree that many Yalies are at risk for eating disorders (I have many friends who have them), I'm not sure much blame can be ascribed to the nutrition fact cards. It seems like there are larger issues at play when someone has an eating disorder—including those the author discussed in this article—and that the cards are not going to make a huge marginal difference. Honestly, if borderline anorexics are eating the hot food (even the 22-calorie zucchini) it's better than nothing! Where the cards do make a difference is for the many, many people trying to battle the freshman and sophomore fifteen… I myself have packed on the pounds, and would have done more had I not had the nutrition info.

  • Anonymous

    i completely agree with the article. as a freshman, the whole system of posting nutrition facts right in my face without any choice of mine led to dangerously disordered eating, and i know it does likewise for many, many yale students even if they don't care to admit it. people here need to stop being perfectionists in everything, and it's alarming to see so many way-too-skinny yale people counting calories at each dinner… and believe me, it was most alarming to see myself doing that. nutritional information SHOULD be available in the dining halls and/or online, but it SHOULD NOT be staring everyone in the face… i do not want to see the information directly above my food, and i know many other yalies like me dread how the presence of this information increases the obsessive perfectionist tendencies that many of us have

  • Anonymous

    I think all these negative reactions to Ms. Hogan's proposal are indicative of just how misunderstood eating disorders are.

    This is a great idea, and I would love to see the dining halls follow through.

  • Isabella Boltina

    #6… your points are interesting, but I think that it is not hard to know that a cookie is not the same as an apple, and, must I reiterate that the tendencies towards anorexia and bulimia at Yale are far more significant than those towards obesity. Yale dining halls are not McDonalds, and the article is not dealing with "global" public policy issues but with a specific undergraduate college setting in which sensitivity towards the issue of eating disorders should be high, especially since there are relatively few resources for treating eating disorders in Yale and New Haven. Finally, #6, what you mean by self-"envolved" in your last sentence?

  • outside perspective

    From a totally outside perspective - meaning not at all affiliated with Yale: I believe that this makes perfect sense. The reason I believe this is because I have seen first hand how a person could easily become trapped in the world of calorie counting etc. - as a direct result of posting nutritional information like Yale is doing. To sufferers it often becomes a game, a challenge, to see how low they can get their calories for the day or how much they can limit their fat grams. It is a dangerous, and potentially deadly, cycle. Students do not need to know the exact caloric contents of food. Instead they should be taught to learn portion control and they should be taught that anything can fit into a persons meal plan… It is all about moderation.

    Trust the author of this article's position. She is correct. And I know that eating disorder doctors and dietitians would agree.

  • Anonymous

    i don't know, sometimes the calorie counts on yale food items seem a little whack. they're probably not accurate anyway, just like how a treadmill can't actually tell you how many calories you're burning.

  • supportive

    I have suffered from OCD and anorexia nervosa since in my sophomore year at Yale.

    While it may be easy for #1 to complain about making informed decisions without the numbers on the card, think about what is at stake here. For you, #1, it is the possibility of a couple of inches on your waistline. For me and for other Yalies with eating disorders, it is our happiness, our physical well-being, and the promise of living (and eating) like a normal person.

    It is extremely difficult to properly understand an eating disorder without actually having experienced one in some way. I know for a fact that I did not have any appreciation for what it entailed before I began to suffer from them myself. I also know that I would give ANYTHING to go back to a day when the number of calories I consume, the amount of exercise I need to get to burn it off, and when, where and what my next meal was going to be was not on my mind every second of every day.

    I realize that removing the nutrition facts from the dining hall line will not cure me. I'm not sure anything will at this point. But I am sure that having the nutrition facts constantly shoved in my face every day is only keeping me in the same obsessive cycle that I have been in for the last two years.

    Cut Haley some slack. Take a minute and think - her suggestion is a good one.

  • Anonymous

    Not a good idea. As an athlete, it is critical to know what I am eatng, if I am getting enough carbohydrates, enough protein, enough calories. It is way too hard to keep track of all the info from the internet, especially when the posted and actual menus are very off. As well, PWG closes at 10PM and opens at 6AM during the week (earlier on weekends), so there is no way it is packed at midnight.

  • Important issue!

    Working on campus as a member of ECHO—eating concerns and health outreach—I have seen first-hand how nutrition labeling has a much greater effect on overly concerned, food obsessed individuals than those who actually need such information. This calorie labeling does not take into account the vast differences between people groups and experiences. This is to be expected of nutrition labels (because there must be some level of standardization,) but the more one is uncontrollably bombarded with notions of calories and fat, the more people who are pre-disposed to disordered eating will take notice. Somehow, we need to incorporate a more healthy way of addressing nutrition and improving health, without creating an environment that is increasingly fat-phobic and diet obsessed (especially on college campuses like Yale.) No group—even if a minority—can be ignored when the consequences are so deadly. If people want nutrition information they should take the initiative to obtain such information (it is readily available online.) Just as people have the right to information, people also have the right to ignore it. Personal responsibility cannot be forgotten in this discussion. Nor, can individual health and personal needs be considered a monolithic reality .

  • An older Yale grad

    First, this is an amazingly well written and cogently argued article. Second, as someone who has to watch his weight carefully, I happen to like knowing the caloric details of what I'm eating. And I'm appreciative of America's growing obesity problem. But, third, other alternatives exist than putting calory counts in every Yale student's face. For example, students could request to be given an informational sheet on entering the dining hall, or they could sign up ahead of time to be on a special distribution list. And finally, I'm not sure good research exists confirming what Yale wants to do. Walking around the Yale campus, I would say that anorexia is a more prevalent and serious problem than obesity.

  • Public Health Perspective

    The author's argument may sound appealing, but there's no evidence to suggest that posting nutrition facts at the point of purchase leads to an increase in eating disorders. There are many studies, however, that have shown that these efforts can help reduce obesity. (See here for the Rudd Center's report: http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/reports/RuddMenuLabelingReport2008.pdf)

    Moreover, the author forgets to mention the many important benefits of nutrition facts, especially for Yalies with allergies or special diets for medical reasons (like low sodium or low cholesterol).

    Sadly, the food in the dining hall is often not as healthy as it looks. The Berkeley Mac and Cheese, for example, may be 'organic' but it has ten times as much saturated fat as Kraft's Mac and Cheese. I'm not an obsessive calorie counter, but I do want to know what I'm putting into my body…

    For another perspective, see http://yaledailynews.com/articles/view/17979

  • y09

    As someone who went from 40 pounds overweight to 10-15 pounds overweight over the course of a year, largely due to actually paying attention to those calorie labels, I hope there's an easier way to take care of the issue Haley's raising. Those of us who are genuinely overweight and trying to lose weight need those labels in our faces.

  • MT

    Thanks for this article, Haley. You make a very good point and you argue it well. Labeling fosters an unhealthy relationship with food for people who are already all too aware of calories.

    There are plenty of people at Yale who are visibly suffering eating disorders, and certainly many more who suffer without visible effects. This is a much more significant problem on campus than obesity. Part of good public health practice is knowing the population that one's policies are aimed at and adapting those policies to suit that population.

    As a former anorexic myself, I'm pretty sure that many Yale anorexics think the labeling of food for caloric content is great: it facilitates their efforts to underfeed themselves. How sad.

  • Okay, that's enough.

    It's pretty obvious from his or her use of the phrase "former anorexic" that #19 is full of crap. Anorexia is not something you get over. Ever. That's why I find the labels so helpful.

    "But doesn't it just make you stress out more about calories if you know how many there are?" No. I'm going to stress out about calories anyway. All the time. Forever. But those of us determined to fight this condition, to force ourselves to eat so that we're not hospitalized again, NEED TO KNOW EXACT CALORIE COUNTS.

    We make sure we know exactly how many calories are in every single thing we eat. We have studied extensively online. We know the calorie counts of all kinds of things you haven't even thought there could be calories in. But given the … mysterious nature of many Yale dining meals, oftentimes we can't be sure. Unless we have the labels.

    These labels have been helping us for a lot longer than the eight months Haley's been noticing them. Don't take the labels away just because they make Haley feel like a pig. And for God's sake, don't take them away out of some misguided notion of kindness. It's hard enough holding a measuring cup under a cereal dispenser once a day, let alone three times.

  • ignorance not equal to bliss

    Are anorexics currently lobbying Congress to repeal the mandatory nutritional labeling instituted on packaged food in 1990? Do they find that information too much "in their faces"? The above McDonalds analogy is a little awkward, to be sure, but it's not that far off the mark. Unless watched closely, industrial food will fortify their product with poison, restaurants will deceptively serve 2000 calorie salads, cafeterias will spend your room-and-board money on french fries and chicken fingers. Helping people eat properly in a culture glutted with food can only be done by educating them about nutrition and giving them easy access to the truth about what different foods are actually made of. This should be done for people who under- and overeat because of psychological issues as well as for people who overeat casually or habitually. The mandatory buffet meals at Yale absolutely cry out for this type of nutritional transparency. Hogan's suggestion that anorexics will be cured by being lied to in the dining hall is total nonsense.

  • Anonymous

    Haley didn't want to know that eating a big bowl of goat cheese was fattening, so she starts throwing around eating disorder theories like she knows what she's talking about? What a joke.

  • y09

    This is an embarrassingly terrible idea. Seriously. We should not be making decisions that will affect 100% of us based on the ideas of 1%, tops (anorexics). I make healthy eating decisions every day (ex - the turkey burgers today were extremely fatty, so they did not make my plate).

    One of the many reasons that this country is too fat is that we do not place a large enough burden on eating healthy and having a healthy, slim, body image. We are pandering to this nebulous concept of "eating disorders."

  • yale 11

    Absolutely terrible idea. Not having the calorie information available actually makes a worse environment for those with disordered eating, because as anyone who is truly familiar with eating disorders knows, if the information is not available then the best way to ensure no weight gain is to overestimate on everything and end up consuming even less food in the even. ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE IDEA. Too many of my friends overestimated calories and became extremely ill until they were given accurate information and finally felt comfortable consuming more. YALE, DO NOT LISTEN TO HOGAN>

  • Anonymous

    Talking about the percentage of the United States that is overweight is meaningless here at Yale. The sad fact is that the Yale community really in no reflects the American climate in terms of weight loss. Regardless of the percentage of United State's citizens that suffer from obesity, the real problem at Yale lies in the type A behavior we all exhibit that leads to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Haley is referring to the way that we here at Yale control our lives to the point of neurosis and how that spills over into the way we eat and therefore the way we live. We all have the ability and means to check these facts online, and for those that are concerned with dietary needs they have the information at hand whenever they turn on their computers. Posting these statistics next to ever dish does not encourage us to think about the balance of what we are eating but rather the numerical value. As someone who has struggled with eating I can say that the posting of nutritional values has only encouraged my eating issues rather then aided my sense of self and sense of being healthy. Attacking her for her article betrays your lack of understanding of these issues and the people who suffer from them.

  • Anonymous

    Hayley, this is a well-intentioned piece. However, I do tend to agree that removing the labels doesn't really solve the problem. With the diminishing of resources on campus to help students with eating disorders, the ideal solution may not be tangible.

    Sure, perhaps removing the calorie count will solve the problem for the next few years. But what about after Yale? Unless you will have someone always preparing your food for you, you will run into the problem of preparing food for yourself. Which means buying items with nutritional information listed on them (unless, perhaps, you're buying fresh fruits and veggies, and you can't get enough of those!). Which means the same problem will pop up.

    I do appreciate the thought that went into this article, but perhaps it might be wise to search for more lasting, long-term solutions than to put a temporary bandaid on a wound that just won't heal.

  • c/o 2009

    @26

    Solving the problem for the next few years might actually be good enough. I think a good parallel is with things like depression. Though there are always genetic factors contributing, depression is also very much the product of incorrect and distorted patterns of thinking, a lack of coping skills, and a lack of a support system. You might say "Instead of giving these people antidepressants, why don't we give them counseling to fix those other problems."

    But the things is that antidepressants often give short term relief and provides stability while the counseling does its work. Antidepressants can help the individual moderate his moods and feelings so that he is able to work on those other things like fixing unhealthy thought patterns and gaining coping skills, work he wouldn't be able to do if he didn't have some chemical help stabilizing his feelings before hand.

    I think removing the number of calories could serve a similar function for those with eating disorders. It would be something that might--MIGHT--make the current day to day experience easier. If they're also using this time to deal with their other issues, then it makes sense that taking out the things that might trip them up in the short run will help them progress.

    Anyway, most of the comments have been embarrassing. Many Yalies tend to think that if they have an opinion about a matter and a hunch as to how things work, then their opinion deserves to be right. In truth, the only way to figure this one out is to actually perform an experiment—everyone can take their grand speculating and shove it. I would have thought that being at Yale would have taught people to be humble about their own assumptions and intuitions and rather trust the hard evidence. Yale isn't like most of the country, so those generalizations don't hold. I don't know if Hogan is right, but she has a rationale that is more sophisticated than the mere common knowledge that most people seem to be expressing. I think that's worth respecting, and I think the only way to know for sure is to actually try what she's offering and see what happens. Unless someone actually tries this experiment out in some form, then their opinions aren't worth considering even for a moment. Unfortunately, that applies to most of the comments here.

  • Anonymous

    #27: My god, what a dumb rant about the scientific method! Hogan would have been applauded here had she announced her intent to study the problem in graduate school, encouraged other to do so, etc. Instead she has been ridiculed for suggesting that we all be forced to take part in this non-structured "experiment" and that we all finance it ourselves with two or more years worth of board money. Good science there! The ridicule is warranted. Not everything needs to be tested in a lab, #27. Some ideas are just plain silly.

  • Anonymous

    ….Payne Whitney is not even open at midnight…

  • Bratophobia

    Oh please! Stop the whining about "I'd rather not know the calorie-count - it stresses me out!" (what? and makes you want to eat more???)

    It's time ALL of America start becoming more "food-aware," Yalies included.

    If one experiences stress as a result of too much data, then, honey, you'd probably be better off leaving Yale altogether.

  • Anonymous

    wow, talk about insensitivity to eating disorders and mental illness. bratophobia, i hope no one close to you ever suffers from something like that, and if they did, i'd hope you'd show more understanding then than you are now.

  • NutritionFactsAreNotTheProblem

    The problem lies not within the nutrition facts, but within the people who obsess over them. The nutrition fact cards are clearly helpful to many people who would like to know what they are eating, while there's not much evidence that removing the cards will help solve the problems of those who already obsess over their diet. Those people need help beyond what protecting them from caloric information can provide. Taking well-intended actions toward serious problems like eating disorders may make activists like Hogan feel better about themselves, but there is no point if such actions are not well-informed and wind up doing more harm than good.

  • Anonymous

    I'm surprised that very few people commenting here (and the author of the original article) are unable to recognize obesity and the overeating/poor food choices that lead to obesity as legitimate eating disorders as well. And, like most health practitioners, I tend to agree that the more serious aggregate health risk facing our society is overeating, not undereating. This is not to say that the latter is irrelevant, whether individually or collectively. However, it seems unwise to favor policies (like making nutritional information more difficult to access) that will exacerbate the more widespread problem.

    Furthermore, I firmly disagree with the author's statement that Yalies are more prone to obsessive undereating that overeating. After all, it is somewhat more glamourous to characterize ourselves as hyper-driven to a fault rather than fat and lazy. But the "evidence" the author provides - a hypothetical walk through the PWG fitness center - hardly provides even plausible evidence of the Yale community's collective health needs. This is a classic case of sampling bias: the author is suggesting that we only observe the health & exercise-conscious group that frequents the gym in order to draw our conclusions about the mental state and nutritional needs of the rest of the Yale community. In the very least, I would want to know (based on PWG usage records, not self-reporting) what percentage of the Yale community uses the fitness center on average. I'm betting it's not as high as the author suggests. Furthermore, it would be useful to get some commentary from the medical professionals at the Health Plan about weight statistics at Yale. I'm confident that the issue of overweight bulldogs would be much more serious than the author gives credit for.

    Again, this isn't meant to downplay the collective (and especially individual) health threat presented by diseases like anorexia and bulimia. Those are serious disorders that require appropriate treatment.

    But we also have to come to terms with the fact that being overweight is a health risk that affects a far greater portion of our society in ways that have long-term health consequences that are just as serious as those faced by individuals with the disorders mentioned above. Even if Yalies, on average, are less overweight than the average American, soon they will be going out into the world to dine, shop, cook, and consume on their own. At that time it will be essential for them to be able to make smart and healthy decisions about what they eat.

    Learning to care about nutritional content is an important part of that. But I want to emphasize the *entire* nutritional content, not just calories. Because it does matter how much saturated fat, fiber, carbs, protein, etc. your body is getting, even if you're consuming an appropriate number of calories. This is an area where perhaps Yale can do a better job: rather than just posting nutritional information, students should be given an opportunity (through special programs?) to learn about the entire basket of what makes for healthy eating.

    This, I am sure, would be a much more effective way to approach nutritional issues at Yale, rather than pulling off the labels and pretending that by ignoring them our eating problems will go away.

  • Student

    I agree wholeheartedly with Hogan. Thanks a lot all you fatass ignorant bastards. Yeah, I guess obesity is on the forefront, but you should already know what you're putting into your body. Didn't you take health class? I could tell you the calorie content and fat content of damn near everything thanks to my eating disorder.Maybe if fat people paid attention in health class then they wouldn't be obese, and maybe if us ED sufferers ran the world, we could produce thinner and more productive citizens.

  • mother of an anorexic

    I agree with Haley but also see the point of the comment from the student in recovery. If you are trying to maintain a prescribed meal plan it does help to have some information. However, knowing the entree has 1120 calories doesn't help, rather, it can lead to panic. I hope you continue in recovery, I know it's extrememly difficult given the stresses here.

    The Freshman 15 isn't likely to have long term affects. Most of you will lose it by the time you are 25 anyway. You are all bright enough to realize on your own that fried or covered in creamy cheese sauce is not good for you.

    Eating disorders do have long term effects. Malnutrition causes changes in brain chemistry and structure. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any brain disorder, as high as 20% by some estimates. Bulimia can cause heart arrhythmia. I urge anyone who is suffering frome and eating disorder or suspects a friend has an eating disorder to check out NEDA (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org) for where to find help.

    As for the dining halls, there is a valid point to having nutrition information available. I suggest posting exchanges (2 protein, 1 fat, etc) as defined by the American Diabetes Association and used by Weight Watchers somewhere other than directly in front of the food.

  • student

    the first thing I noticed my freshman year was how skinny the Yale population was relative to the general public. After a couple months I began to notice an alarming number of Yalies with eating disorders. It is an epidemic at Yale. I walk into the bathroom at TD only to smell vomit from one of the many bulimic students. I watch several of my peers limit themselves to a plate of spinach before heading off to the gym to run on the treadmill for an hour.

    Yeah sure obesity is an epidemic in the general populace, but not at Yale.

    I think the issue of nutritional information cards is irrelevant, whatever. It helps some, it hurts some. Doesn't change the fact that anorexia and bulimia are rampant on Yale's campus and its about time Yale Health did something about it.

  • Y'10

    If anorexia and bulemia are problems at Yale, the solution is certainly not to force everyone to live in enforced ignorance.

    I honestly don't ever look at the nutritional information on cards, because I just follow the careful diet of Eating When I'm Hungry. I wouldn't notice if they were gone.

    But its absurd to suggest that there should be an intentional policy of keeping students in the dark as to the nutritional content of their meals.

    Anorexia and bulemia are unfortunate. I don't know enough about them to make an informed call as to whether they're psychological, neurological, biological, or metaphysical. But I know the solution should not involve foisting ignorance on 5000+ Yalies.

  • Anonymous

    Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. Obesity is a buzz issue (and a real concern, generally), but don't discount the dire consequences of anorexic and bulemic behaviors. Those in the dining halls who are most likely to become obese probably aren't even looking at the nutritional cards anyway. It's not like the nutritional facts on bags of Doritos or bottles of Mountain Dew have kept the masses from consuming them in large quantities. Yale Dining, take those cards away.

  • '06er

    Why not put the nutritional information for all dining hall offerings into a searchable binder available in the dining hall? New recipes could be added easily and the information would be accessible to anyone who wished to look at the offerings available for that particular meal. A bit archaic in the digital age, perhaps, but one of the many OCD undergrads could be in charge of its meticulous organization and upkeep. No, really… wouldn't this be a good compromise?

    Having been on the other side of the coin (gained a good bit of weight from eating more than I needed) during my years at Yale, I would have greatly appreciated thorough and comprehensible nutritional labeling of the food offerings in the dining halls. I also watched many of my peers who struggled with anorexia succumb to over analysis of what little nutritional info existed then so I can see Haley's point. However, putting things online doesn't really help, as other posters have ably noted. What do you all think?

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