Boiling on a Budget

Isabella Grella and Stephania Quintero

Nowadays, college students are some of the worst eaters out there. Not only do most freshmen gain a “Freshman Fifteen,” but they also tend to continue their poor eating habits throughout their four years in college. Research can prove that many college students eat very poorly, especially during their first year. A study by Oregon State University researchers surveyed the eating habits of 582 college students, a majority of which were first-year students. The study, now online in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, compares male and female students, but found that both were not getting the proper amount of fruits and vegetables. Male students had about five servings a week, slightly higher than female students who self-reported eating about four servings of fruits and vegetables. They believe this is due to not only the unhealthy food that colleges serve but also how college students eat at late hours of the night on days that they have to study or have a heavy workload.   

College students often skip meals, leading to a slowing metabolism and poor eating habits. College kids also eat a lot of pizza, fries, wings, soup, and salad, though they’re more likely to chug some Monster than they are to guzzle a cup of coffee. So, many resort to a cup of ramen noodles or a bowl of mac and cheese for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. A study by Mickey Trockel a doctoral candidate in the Department of Community Health University of Illinois, Michael Barnes an associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences, and Dennis Eggett a director of the Statistical Research Center, for example, found a positive relationship between eating breakfast and first-year college students’ grade-point averages.” Students that have busy schedules in college and are balancing school and work or sports have a hard time regulating their eating patterns. Despite these difficulties, students need to make time to eat their meals at an appropriate time because this factor affects not only health but academic achievement as well.      

Although it may seem difficult, there are many ways to keep a healthy diet throughout your college years. A couple of ways to eat healthy are to stock up on healthy staples, such as nuts, crackers, and dried fruits and to have fresh, cut-up fruit or fruit salad in your dorm room refrigerator that you can eat as a snack. When you eat at the dining hall have a plate that hits all the food groups, including your veggies. Lastly, it is important to drink water instead of sugary drinks. The water will fill you up, causing you to eat a bit less, and will also prevent you from gaining weight from sodas and unhealthy juices.

Simply substituting certain ingredients in easy foods can aid any college student in the creation of a great meal, one that surpasses Ramen Noodles and mac and cheese. Instead of Chinese Takeout, simply replace white rice with easy-to-cook quinoa and add veggies or chicken breasts. Stray away from Chipotle by making homemade chicken quesadillas containing spinach wraps, peppers, low-fat cheese, and chicken. The possibilities are endless with a microwave, some ingredients, and creativity. Avoiding the Freshman Fifteen never seemed easier!