Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Food for thought: Eating healthy in college

 

By Nadia Paschal

Students lead a busy life moving from one class to another and trying to balance all their academic responsibilities. 

Add the stress of juggling their personal life, getting enough sleep and even working part time, students have a lot on their plates. But what is actually going on their plates? 

With loaded schedules, many don’t have time to cook meals at home or eat a nutritious balanced meal. Students often turn to the several dining halls on campus, or will stop by a fast food restaurant on their way home.

Violet Mueller, a nutrition major who also has chemistry and personal training minors, puts a lot of thought into what she eats each day. 

Mueller also serves as the social media manager for the Student Nutrition Association.

Mueller said she does turn to the dining halls quite a bit during the week, because they are quick and easy to access.

“It’s convenient. It’s also just the idea of not spending real money,” Mueller said.

Some students pay for the entirety of college out of pocket, and the costs pile up quickly. According to Debt.org, college students collectively spend about $11 billion per year on snacks, beverages and fast food.

Although it may seem cheap in the moment and easy to wave away, the price of these meals can add up fast. 

A study done at Baylor University found that about 49% of students ate fast food meals two to four times a week.

View of McDonad’s sign against blue sky on March 11, 2021 in Kiev, Ukraine Olena Shvets - stock.adobe.com

We all are aware of the effects that these kinds of restaurants have on our bodies and health, so students instead opt to go to dining halls. 

With an already paid for meal plan and a seemingly large variety of items to choose from, many believe that this is the healthier choice.

“I feel like they try to (offer more nutritious meals). However, just being a small school we’re not going to get the universal experience of a (larger) DI school,” Mueller said. “For a smaller school, it’s enough.”

For those who do want to start eating in a way that is more budget friendly and sustainable, there are many stores to choose from in the area.

Target, Walmart, Aldi and even the North Country Food Co-op downtown. 

Although prices differ, the products are mostly the same. Students can choose according to their budgets and dietary needs, and save money by buying products that can make multiple meals and last the whole week instead of just one sitting.

“Stick to the basics. Have a protein, have a carb and a healthy saturated fat… Just kind of fulfilling foods that can fuel us in our studies,” Mueller said.

Even if you cut down on fast food a few times a week, it will make a difference on both your health and your wallet. 

It may not be as easy, but it’s important to try to implement as many healthy habits as possible while in college.

 

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