The Nursing Student Organization hosted author, food coach and speaker Karen Ranzi on Feb. 2 in Friends Hall. Ranzi offered students her ideas and advice on healthy eating habits in college.
Ranzi has written several books on vegan eating, parenting and teaching kids healthier eating habits. In addition to her writing, she coaches families with children on the autism spectrum. Ranzi was able to cure her 3-year-old son from asthma, chronic ear infections and allergies through diet and lifestyle changes. Ranzi’s mission since then has been to educate audiences on the benefits of the raw food lifestyle and attachment parenting.
“College cafeterias are filled with processed and refined foods and animal foods, all of which are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. This leads to many of the degenerative diseases that we see in today’s Western societies,” Ranzi said.
Ranzi says that as a society, we need to move to a diet and lifestyle based on plant foods. According to Ranzi, these foods contain the necessary fiber humans need for proper digestion, the nutrients required to sustain healthy living and sufficient protein for all of our needs. Ranzi stressed that it is important to understand that protein is available in all plant foods, especially in “leafy green vegetables.”
“The largest animals in nature are plant eaters, and they are the biggest, most muscular animals, like the elephant, giraffe, horse, bison and more. They all get plenty of protein from plants, and so do we as humans as we are designed to eat plants,” Ranzi explained.
Ranzi also addressed the changes that college campuses nationwide would need to make to become healthier. She wants to see vending machines eliminated or changed to healthy snacks as well as large salad bars with fresh fruits and vegetables. These changes could potentially give students more energy throughout the day, better concentration and more phytonutrients to keep them healthy throughout the year. Ranzi added that she also would like to see classes on the benefits of healthy plant-based nutrition being taught on every college campus.
Ranzi believes that these changes are possible on college campuses if people are educated on successful plant-based lifestyles so they can gradually make changes to eliminate saturated fats and chemically processed and refined foods in their own lives.
The audience had mixed feelings on how feasible these changes would be.
“While I doubt that most college students would be OK with never eating processed foods again, I think adding more healthy choices in the vending machines and cafeteria would be a good idea for reducing things like the national obesity levels, " Amy Grimm, junior, commented. "Eliminating junk food altogether is a tad bit unrealistic."
On the other hand, Lauren Santaniello, a Ramapo alumna at the event, felt that the changes Ranzi spoke of were both realistic and attainable.
“A lot of people will think these changes are unrealistic just because of how attached and addicted they already are to fast food and other junk food products,” Santaniello said in an interview Sunday. “Once people realize that you can in fact live without eating those kinds of things, I think making these changes will be easier.”