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Snack Time Before and After Meal:
A Habit That Can Lead to Eating Disorders
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are words quite familiar to us. They all represent a period of time in which is taken to eat. Because it is very easy to understand what those words mean, they often are understood or interpreted in different ways. While in some countries eating is part of a daily ritual, in which the entire family participates, other countries such as Switzerland, use eating as a part of the child's education. I was often told by my parents, "Eating time is a moment which has to be respected; learn to set aside a certain amount of time stopping whatever you do to eat appropriately at a regular time." In Switzerland, people pay a lot of attention to regular eating habits because they feel that a period of studying or work should be separated by a regular eating time in order to function normally.
Since this paper is intended for the reader who wishes to become more knowledgeable about the topic, only a general outlook is given. This paper does not go into great detail, for the reader is to draw his or her own conclusions from the information given.
Since I have been here in a college atmosphere, I have observed that the eating behavior at an American college is totally different from what I have experienced before. Why is it that different? It is at this location that you can find people from anywhere in the world with different eating habits and values about eating. It is also at this place that people can easily unlearn their traditional eating habits developed when living with their family.
Since living in a college atmosphere, I have been observing the eating behavior of the students. I have been interested in learning why their eating habits give them a chance to fall into eating disorders. By doing some research and providing information from a survey, I understand that eating disorders do not depend on subgroups of college students, but by their eating behaviors such as eating snacks between main meals, skipping meals, social eating, or eating snacks instead of meals because of the college time pressure.
The writer, Eric Goodman, reports that freshman college students often forge friendships over dining hall meals, which are expanded longer and longer by eating extra desserts. They begin to spend time hitting bars and sharing late-night snacks when bars close down. If not going to the bar, they may watch TV shows for hours while scarfing down bowls of nacho-cheese-flavored air-popped popcorn (154) .
According to Leslie Morgan, on campus college students are quite respectful of their eating times and the amount of food for each main meal; however, whenever they are done with the meal and see the enormous endless supply of food (dessert) available (156), because of eating in groups, they tend to take second or even third helpings. If that behavior becomes a habit, this will deregulate the body's function. A University of Toronto study confirms that "girls who participated in part of a two-or four-person group polished off some 700 calories worth of food." Group eaters consumed up to five times more cookies than lone diners, particularly if they watch movies. In addition, when students get into an interesting conversation in a friendly environment, they may be distracted and take part in "absent-minded munching" (Bischof 18) .
Another important fact that could lead students not to respect meal times is that they conveniently eat snacks instead of well-balanced meals.
When asking 27 females and 22 males (KVCC and WMU students) how long they take to eat their daily meal, I found the answers were amazing. As you see from the chart, both guys and girls eat quit a bit for the same amount of time.
Eating time in minutes
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15 girls out of 27 said that they skip breakfast regularly.
7 guys out of 22 said that they skip breakfast regularly.
On the other hand, when asking in another survey,(12 girls and 10 guys all students from KVCC and WMU) if they eat snacks regularly, I learned that both guys and girls eat on average two snacks a day. Eighty percent of both sexes said that they ate snacks while spending time with friends. I noticed a clear difference between females and males. About 68% of the females skip meals and later have a snack, but only 40% of the males do this.
A study of binge eating defined by the DSM as a rapid consumption of a large amount of food in a limited period of time, reveals that people who have binge eating patterns eat very often after midnight and more during weekends than on weekdays. Most people overeat in situations involving the presence of friends and families.
When people eat snacks and junk food, binging behavior occurs more often than when they eat normal meals (Johnson et al. 101-116).
In another study, questions were assessed in two different schools. The first one, school A, which emphasizes physical appearance, dressing in certain fashions, and participating in the sorority-fraternity system, whereas school B represents more liberal students and emphasizes political activism and intellectual talents. When checking the result of the assessment, authors found that those two college campuses did not differ in the rates of eating disorders in students. From this finding, they assume that eating disorders are not connected to academic or sociocultural pressure. However, eating disorders occur because of environmental factors, such as snacking with friends (Kashubeck et al. 640-645).
By eating snacks for whatever reason, the pattern of eating is disrupted and often leads students to eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia. Whenever meals are skipped and replaced by a snack, the nutrition is not appropriate because of the high-fat substances contained in snacks. A snack-eating habit is a good predisposition to an eating disorder. The college atmosphere develops worries for students, often girls, such as socio-cultural pressures concerning physical appearance and thinness, adherence to traditional gender role stereotypes, and pressure to achieve resulting in long and busy days (Kashubeck et al 640). It is certain that when college students have the pressure of so many factors, their eating behavior is often influenced by skipping breakfast, as you can notice on the chart of my survey. Later during the day, college students will often compensate for their hunger by eating a quick snack. One cannot say for sure that people with such behavior of skipping meals or snacking with friends will develop some form of eating disorder. However, it is a fact that the chances are greater when behaving under these conditions that students could develop serious health problems.
American college students often do not respect regular daily schedule to eat appropriately. Away from home, during the freshman year, students have plenty of freedom to organize their schedules the way they want. A bad eating behavior is often a result because students compensate for missed meals by participating in some late- night snacking surrounded by friends. Later in college, students may develop eating disorders because of some social factors such as becoming terrified of not being able to fit into last year’s formal dress. For such reasons, girls and even guys will try to restrict their weight gain by vomiting. This is known as bulimia nervosa.
Whether the weight problem is obesity, anorexia, or bulimia, the consequences are serious. Therefore more attention must be paid to college students’ eating habits.
Bishof, Ingrid. "Feeding Frenzy." Psychology Today March / April. 1996: 18.
Goodman, Eric. "The Pressure to Be Perfect." Glamour Jan. 1996: 154-155.
Johnson, William G. "A Naturalistic Functional Analysis of Binge Eating" Behavior Therapy 1995: 101-116.
Kashubeck, Suan et al. "College Atmosphere and Eating Disorders." Journal of Counseling & Development July / Aug. 1994: 640-645.
Morgan, Leslie. "College Food Fight: Eating Disorder on Campus." Seventeen
May. 1993: 156.
Outline of Report
Snack Time Before and After Meal:
A Habit That Can Lead to Eating Disorders
Background information: * Eating time has a different value all over the world
* Eating time in college is a place where eating well doesn’t have very much value; it is a chance to socialize and gulp down food for survival
Thesis: There are many different factors in a college atmosphere which could lead students into eating disorders. Those factors are that students do not eat the three main meals at a regular time, they often skip one of those meals and later during the day eat a snack instead. In addition, when spending time with friends most students eat snacks, often late at night.
A. Eating behavior in College atmosphere
1. Snack eating habits
2. Skipping main meals
3. A survey about eating behavior at WMU and KVCC
4. Assessment in two different colleges
1. How regular or abnormal eating behavior can lead to eating disorders
Often college students eat an inappropriate amount of food at irregular times, and this may lead to eating disorders.