A healthier view through FS2

The FS2 program provides a wide array of meals and snacks to reinforce a healthy outlook on eating well. Photo by Brad Leuchte

Everyone has heard the cliché – an apple a day keeps the doctor away. While a single apple is great and all, it takes a lot more than one choice to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

This is especially true in America where fast food and instant gratification go hand and hand. So put down that tempting Twinkie, ditch that doughnut, and forget those French fries – it’s time for a culinary makeover FS2 style.   

Lisa Eck, an English professor at FSU, immersed herself in the FS2 program as a means to achieve a healthier lifestyle, not only for herself, but to provide scientific data for researchers.

“The FS2 program sounded like an ambitious commitment, yet it became clear to me that to produce a real change, it would take nine months,” said Eck. “I was really motivated to contribute to the science, to be a part of something larger than myself,” she added.

FS2 is a food study program run through FSU and sponsored by Children’s Hospital Boston that takes place over the course of an academic school year.

The program actively seeks out willing participants ages 18-to-65. The study spans nine months, the first three of which involve weight loss with the remaining six dedicated to maintaining that loss.

A major goal of the program is to help those involved achieve a set weight loss, while maintaining that weight loss through healthy eating habits.

Obesity, diabetes and heart disease run rampant in the United States. And according to the American Heart Association, nearly 70 percent of American adults are overweight or obese.

The American Heart Association further states that obesity can lead to a higher risk of stroke and heart disease, the number 5 and number 1 killers in the U.S respectively.    

However, this problem can be addressed and eventually reversed through education, positive encouragement toward attainable goals, and access to programs such as FS2 that provide safe and effective means of weight loss.

In contrast to the plethora of fad diets and quick fixes out there, the FS2 program leaves ample time to achieve realistic goals. “The nine-month commitment convinced me that I had a fighting chance to make my goals a reality as opposed to a quick fix,” Eck said.

Eck further discussed the restrictions imposed by the FS2 program. “We [the participants] had to give up alcohol for the duration of the program. I was drawn to the ideal, as it made me further optimistic that the program would work,” she said.

A successful program must maintain a strict regimen in order to stay true to both the science and the participant. However, for Eck, this strictness was paradoxical.

“What sounded difficult about it, actually made it easy,” said Eck. “I didn’t get to choose what to eat, and I thought to myself, what does it mean to give up that freedom? That agency? … However, it was so liberating to have the extra thought of food lifted off my mind,” she said.

Eck went on to state that every day we face temptations especially when it comes to food choices. We attempt to satiate cravings such as a salty snack or a sweet one or anything to provide instant gratification, regardless of nutritional value. These snacks fail to curb hunger for long and can lead to a vicious cycle of craving food that is oversaturated with excessive amounts of sugar, she said.

Sophomore nutrition major Lydia Hirzel offered her insights to further explain why obesity is still a prevalent problem.

“It’s very easy to overeat. That’s where the problem is,” said Hirzel. “Desserts are offered for lunch and dinner at FSU, and they are free, which only adds to temptation,” she added.

Hirzel’s statement goes hand-in-hand with the phenomenon called “portion distortion,” which simply put is making a meal much larger than it should be.

Hirzel aims to educate the younger generations on the benefits of eating healthy.

“Ideals stick to kids at a young age, so it’s important to educate them on healthy eating habits, to better provide for a holistically healthy self,” she said. “Many people simply don’t know what good nutrition is.”

This statement coincides with the beliefs of others in the health and nutrition field.

“Fed Up” by Stephanie Soechtig is a film urging people to examine the food they consume.

“There are 600,000 food items in America and 80 percent of these foods have added sugar,” said Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “The sugar industry is in it to make money, not to make America healthy.”

Lustig and others speak to the grasp the food and beverage industry has on our nation as a whole. Much of the food offered today by big industries has little to no nutritional value or is filled with empty calories.

In stark contrast, meals and snacks offered by FS2 are both healthy and satisfying.

“The food was very interesting, flavorful and full of culinary creativity,” said Eck.

There is a plethora of food options offered by the program. The Framingham State Food Study website displays a menu of some of the many possible meal choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

An example dinner offered by FS2 is comprised of ginger sesame chicken salad, green beans, a whole grain roll, raisins, pumpkin seeds and a healthy helping of jiggly orange Jell-O®.   

Sophomore nutrition major Erin O’Connell offered tips for students looking to eat healthy outside of the food study program.

“There are plenty of healthy options on campus, but it’s important to do research beforehand and later incorporate them into your diet,” O’Connell said.

Eck went on to say FS2 was very comprehensive. “The program offered foods from all the food groups. The amount in each group varied from person to person,” said Eck. “I was in the medium carb diet range, and others had more or fewer carbs allotted to them based on their group,” she added.                                                      

Eck also addressed her unforeseen but astonishing benefits of the FS2 Program. “I had completely changed my metabolism in three months. I doubled my calories and never gained any weight,” said Eck.

Eck’s outlook on food has also changed.

“Food is powerful, and with a healthy regimen, I was less stressed, I had much more energy, and I learned to take time to eat and enjoy the food,” she said.

“However, the first 10 days of the program were tough. There were points where I was going to eat my arm,” said Eck jokingly.

Eck closed by discussing the impact the FS2 program had on her.

“It’s not for everyone, but for me it was a life-changing experience that graciously presented itself during my time at FSU.”

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