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Following student complaints, dining removes bulletin board posters

December 5, 2019

Posters on a Moulton Union bulletin board detailing the calorie counts of standard Thanksgiving foods were taken down after students anonymously pinned angry comments to the board.

The posters, which included “strategies to decrease intake and manage weight,” were posted on the Thursday before Thanksgiving—the day of Bowdoin Dining’s annual Thanksgiving dinner.

“The bulletin board was put up in [an] earnest attempt to satisfy requests by students and staff who had asked for nutrition information,” wrote Susanne D’Angelo-Cooley, Moulton Union’s operations manager and nutritionist for Bowdoin dining, in an email earlier this week. One poster claimed, “The average person gains seven pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

D’Angelo-Cooley explained, “The board was taken down after insulting and negative comments were posted.”

Some students, including Sydney Burton ’23, found the signage to be more harmful than helpful.

“This seems incredibly unnecessary—especially the calories. When I was eating my Thanksgiving dinner, I certainly wasn’t thinking about that. Nobody should be,” Burton said. “I should not have to be guilted into feeling concerned with my weight on the one night a year where I should be concerned with my own feelings of gratitude.”

Rather than focusing on the importance of giving thanks during the holiday, Burton believes Moulton Union’s weight warning added pressure to the festivities.

“It’s honestly appalling how dining felt the need to take the joy out of the meal by illustrating the gritty reality of the food’s effect,” Burton said. “But no regrets because that pecan pie was amazing.”


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  1. Class of 2020 says:

    Too bad. I’ve been trying to be healthier and maintain a healthy weight. The posters were a great reminder for me to stick to my goals. And the nutritional information helped me make good choices in the dining hall. It’s too bad that a few upset people have to prevent nutritional information from being posted, as was requested by multiple students and faculty members. If factual information about food makes you feel guilt, maybe you need therapy?

    • Class of 2019 says:

      Lol. Chill. She specifically pointed out that this was unnecessary on Thanksgiving, a holiday centered around gratitude. If this were posted any other week, great. The more informed we can be to make good choices, the better.
      But this seems like unnecessarily added guilt at this specific time of year, and clearly has not resonated well with some people. Don’t joke about people needing therapy, that’s not cool.

    • Class of 2020 says:

      What “she” are you referring to? I’m referring to the people who left “insulting” comments to the dining staff who were merely providing nutritional information in response to Bowdoin community members who asked for it.

      Some people want to be cognizant of what we’re eating–even on the week of Thanksgiving. If that’s stressful, don’t look at the bulletin board. Or, y’know, go to therapy 🙂

    • Class of 2022 says:

      Yes, that information should be publicly available, but maybe not in bulletin form? People who struggle with negative self-image and eating disorders (many of whom are actively getting help from counseling) don’t want or need to be reminded that they might gain weight during the holidays. It’s great that they reminded you to stick to your goals, but does that really outweigh the harm the posters could have caused?

    • Class of 2020 says:

      It seems like, given the statistic above, that thanksgiving would be an even mor important time to be mindful of this type of information. SImilarly gratitude comes in a numebr of ways, and you can be grateful for more than food, like the people you’re eating with, or the opportunity to be here. Similarly, you could be grateful that we have people who are willing to take the time to get nutritional information for us, and that we can be informed even on the holidays, to make good choices. There is no need to repromand people for trying to go above and beyond, espically when people have requested it. Some people struggle with their weight, some people need this information, and would hope to have it over the holiday season. If you’re uncomfortable about your weight and don’t want to look at the calories, you don’t have to, ignore it, conversely, engage with it, learn about it. Use the information to do whatever you want with it. Just be grateful someone has taken the time out of their holiday and put it up for yours.

    • Anna Martens '20 says:

      First, let’s get this out in the open. I do go to therapy. It helps. But it’s not for you to say what I should or should not do. It took me years to decide that I wanted and needed counseling, because it’s a complex issue with no simple solutions.
      Second, “guilt” is really an inappropriate word to be using in this context. Eating disorder is not a euphemism for “guilt” over eating food. It is a mental health issue and like any other mental health issue, deserves attention and research and thoughtfulness.
      If you’d like to learn more about this issue on college campuses, please reach out.

  2. 2016 says:

    lol whole bunch of snowflakes

    • Class of 2015/Recovering from an Eating Disorder says:

      Really? I bet some of those who complaine are recovering from an eating disorder so I think it is way stronger of them to make a note of this than succumb to restriction and calorie counting.

  3. Class of 2022 says:

    Since when informing someone about calories intake makes them feel guilted about the amount they eat? While the first can imply the second, this does not happen automatically.
    You can enjoy your festivities and still be very much aware of the calories intake. Those two do not exclude themselves. There is no guilt added by the process itself, but just by the fact that you wanted to feel threatened.

    It is sad to see how some look at those caloric intakes and immediately feel threatened, such as the person interviewed. I believe they should be put back, because they represent a good source of information from which we can benefit in making healthier choices.

    • Class of 2015/Recovering from an Eating Disorder says:

      They probably don’t feel threatened, they think it’s bad for their health to know the calories. Why not have calories available but covered so it’s a choice?

  4. Tom Little says:

    good grief.

  5. Important Information says:

    I think the only contorvercial piece of this article could be the wording surrounding “strategies to decrease intake and manage weight”. Presumably the responce to this would be, ‘I shouldn’t have to manage my weight’. Managing weight is almost synonomous with eating healthy, and you wouldn’t fault someone for anything more than being overbearing if they told you to eat healthy. Mangaing weight increases life expectancy, focus, happiness and has a myriad of other positive benifits. This information is critical to that. If anything let’s open up the conversation about eating, talk about food, what we should be eating, and what we shouldn’t. Let’s foster an enviorment so people who need it, can ask what they can do, and have those tools at their disposal, not take them away.

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