The Proposal

One of the most popular concepts surrounding incoming freshman is the importance of avoiding the “freshman 15”–a difficult goal given the food choices available in most dining halls.  Despite the fact that the freshman 15 does not discriminate based on gender, gaining excess weight due to an unhealthy diet stereotypically arises more heavily in discussions among the female population.  Generally, men tend not to worry as much about gaining the feared freshman fifteen; for the issue is readily overlooked yet easily remedied. However, so many freshman guys are oblivious to the whole other world of cuisine available in Happy Valley outside of the on campus resident halls, choices that they should explore prior to their first weeks off campus.  Eateries exist that provide not only much healthier and cheaper options, but also target masculine needs and preferences far more successfully than campus dining plans. Male students have a copious amount of options available to them as far as restaurants just a short walk in town as well as ordering out from locations farther away–most of which provide delivery services.  In addition to restaurants, guys living off campus most likely have access to full style kitchens and the opportunity for shopping at local grocery stores (an experience that many have never had prior to their college years) that offer both the largest selection considering healthful options, as well as the cheapest prices per meal for the most part.  In this case, male students arrive at the prospect of finding recipes and cooking walk-throughs on their own, which, fortunately, can be found in only a matter of minutes searching online.  College weight gain, the unseen foe of many male upperclassmen, is easily conquered with the proper knowledge of alternate food choices. We therefore propose to create a food blog targeted towards male upperclassmen to aid them in maintaining their physique without overspending.

Let’s talk double standards. Guys are stereotyped as meat-devouring workhorses that shouldn’t care about their figure. Girls, on the other hand, are stereotyped as requiring only healthful meals because, otherwise, food will catastrophically affect their appearance. Picture this: a male student stands in the kitchen of his off-campus apartment and his roommate walks by:

“Yo dude, what are making for dinner?”

“I’ve been eating like crap lately, I’m going for a salad tonight.”  All the while attempting to appear as nonchalant as possible in the interest of retaining his masculine integrity.

“Haha, what are you, a girl? I’m just kidding, that’s cool I guess. I’m just going to have one of those pre-made things in the freezer. I can’t cook to save my life,”  as he unwraps a frozen pizza reaching for the oven door.

Many men realize that once they move off campus and no longer have the meal plan as a means of satiating their needs, eating healthy and diverse meals is tough. While a salad costs little energy or money to make, most men find it neither filling nor socially acceptable to have as a meal—especially dinner. Lacking the culinary know-how required to support themselves in apartment-style living, college guys resort to nutritionally bland meals because they are easily prepared.

Combine this dietary disaster with libation consumption and we have a recipe for both the senior sixty and a multitude of other health problems. A 2009 post by The Poor College Student, a blog about students trying to live economically savvy, perfectly captures this issue. One blogger, Bruce, writes about making it through his day on fast-food and coupons for the purpose of conserving cash. A BBC article reports that bad diets and lack of exercise–all common trends in college students–can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. The common misconception that eating healthier means more expense does not always match reality: many avenues exist that allow male students to avoid social scorn, stay fit, and keep their wallets full.

Maintaining masculinity is obviously important among college males. Many spend hours in the gym and hours playing sports, often to maintain their physique. Some even spend the entire month of November not shaving. All of this fosters a sense of manliness. Urban Dictionary describes manliness as being manly or masculine; moreover it is often defined as aggressive, strong, and unfeeling or stoic. Being masculine means in modern times, at least, no shows of emotion, no flamboyance, no hugging or even looking at other men, interest in sports and physical/violent activity. But what is manly when it comes to food? As mentioned before, men are stereotyped as meat-devourers. Seeing a guy eat a salad for a meal often invokes a smirk or giggle from females–the last group of people that college guys want laughing at them. On top of disapproval from females, men must deal with the social stigmas from society in general. Socially, carnivores eating greens is unacceptable. Thus this social scorn limits the healthfulness of many college males’ diets. Guys need something that teaches them how to incorporate essential vegetables in a socially acceptable manner.

A critical part of staying fit is a healthful diet. Unfortunately, many college males do not know the full definition of a healthful diet. In a healthful diet, the caloric intake matches the caloric use. If a student consumes a greater amount of calories than his body needs, the body will store the extra energy in the form of fat, which causes weight gain. Conversely, if caloric intake is less than what the body needs, it will break down fat in order to release energy, which causes weight loss. Most students understand this concept. However, simply matching caloric intake with use does not equal a healthful diet. A healthful diet needs balance as well, which many college students ignore. According the USDA’s website, in a balanced diet, nineteen percent of the calories should come from protein, fifty-six percent should come from carbohydrates, and twenty-seven percent should come from fat. Additionally, the USDA stipulates that these calories should come from across the food groups. With caloric intake spread across the groups in proper ratios, the body also receives the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other essential nutrients. However, counting calories and balancing food groups requires much diligence from college students who have hours of class, hours of homework, and hours of studying every week. To help them avoid the senior sixty and still have time for school and other obligations, college males need something that helps them maintain a healthful diet. College guys need something that shows them how to make convenient, healthful decisions, while still maintaining their sense of masculinity.

Although often overlooked, the unhealthful habits of many college males clearly represent a problem. Guys who do not know how to eat properly can cause themselves serious harm, both in the short and long term. Short-term malnourishment often leads to weight gain, which certainly has negative social stigmas as well as negative health implications. A chronic poor diet (which can easily start in college) has dire long term effects. Just a few of these are depression, osteoporosis, and obesity. Doctors know obesity to lead to heart disease, the leading cause of death in America today. A poor diet lies at the root of many modern problems, and the start of a poor diet can likely be traced to college, where males lie at a social disadvantage to females when it comes to healthful eating. Perhaps this social disadvantage is why men have a greater risk of heart disease than women: due to social stigmas, they do not eat as healthfully. Regardless of whether or not this social bias causes heart disease, it certainly exists. It closes the door for men to experience all that the culinary world has to offer, and consequently leads them to eat less healthfully. Thus, although men stereotypically take no interest in cuisine and pawn off dinner duty to women, it might be themselves that they are hurting. But until widespread social change adjusts these gender roles, our blog will help even the playing field for men when it comes to making good diet choices.

We propose a food blog to remedy these problems. This blog will aid college guys in their quest to eat healthfully and stay fit, both while keeping it manly, and managing all of this while they live off campus. Some of the blog posts will contain recipes for guys to make. The recipes will of course be nutritious, and since many guys lack skill in the kitchen, these recipes will be simple and easily made.  Additionally, buying ingredients and preparing a meal is almost always cheaper than buying a prepared meal. The blog will also contain various restaurant reviews–showing guys where they can find a quality off-campus meal for a reasonable price. Other posts will give guys advice on maintaining an overall balanced, healthful diet. This blog will serve to educate guys on how to maintain a healthful, inexpensive diet while living off campus.

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