Mississippi is known as the state with the highest obesity rate, and it’s a serious issue. As the University of Mississippi increases enrollment with more out-of-state students, many have to adapt to a new food culture of home-style Southern cooking.
However, some may find it hard to enjoy the food while still trying to keep a healthy balance.
“The “freshman 15” here is very real,” said UM student Clay Crozier, a business major. “You can gain a lot of weight in the first couple months here if you’re not careful.”
Gage Berne, a UM marketing major, said healthy food options do exist on campus.
“In the fridges, there is a generous assortment of fruit cups, juice and sushi,” Berne said. “At the same time, there is much more junk food, soda, candy and pizza, by far, in comparison.”
In order to find healthy options, it is best to pick the most nutritious options at The Rebel Market, The Grill at 1810, the Marketplace at the Residential College, and grocery shopping.
Oxford does not have groceries stores, such as Central Market, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s like some bigger cities that are designed for healthier eating. Some students travel to Memphis weekly to grocery shop at the Whole Foods there.
Ansley Stephenson, another UM junior, believes it’s difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle in Oxford.
“It is definitely hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle here,” she said. “Coming from Malibu where fresh fruit is always available and people are really into movements like juicing and other health kicks, it’s just a different environment. I love the way Mississippi is all about homey and filling foods like mac and cheese and mashed potatoes, but everything is good with moderation.”
Coleman Sears, a UM junior and business major, doesn’t believe there is enough access to healthy food in Mississippi.
“Healthy food is also more expensive,” Sears said. “Those in poverty can’t afford healthy food either. The two newest food options they added on campus are two very unhealthy things – Raising Caines and Steak-n-Shake. Freshii and Subway, I guess, are kind of healthy.”
The way in which people think to first combat poor eating habits and weight gain is to eat smaller portion sizes of food and exercise.
The Turner Center is one option. Oxford also has a variety of beautiful trails that people can enjoy with a more private feel.
“There is a Facebook group called Oxford Running that anyone can join where people run at the parks together and meet at Holli’s Sweet Tooth on the Square after to reward themselves,” said Caroline Marshall, a UM junior studying nursing. “People bring their dogs and enjoy nature at the same time.”
Oxford also offers yoga, cycling, and kickboxing studios near campus to work off last night’s cake.