Broke, hungry, and in a hurry: Eating healthy in college

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College students aren’t always known to be the healthiest of eaters, and Dordt students aren’t an exception. Being away from home, in a hurry, and on a budget, it’s easy to choose the cheapest and most filling option. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not possible to eat healthy while in college.

The Commons, where freshmen and sophomores are required to eat, may appear to have a lot of fatty foods, but they provide a vast array of healthy options as well, leaving it up to students to choose what they will eat.

Jeremy Van Den Berg, who is a manager in The Commons, made the point that while institutions that do not get federal money are not bound by the new government laws and regulations for school lunches, he still attempts to follow them as a model for what he serves. “I look at them because obviously there are benefits to them. We do our best to provide both spectrums; those that want to eat healthy and those that choose to eat the not so healthy. Students want to eat they way they want to eat; it’s their own choice. But we also strive hard to provide the healthy side of it too.”

Van Den Berg went on to list the healthy options that The Commons provides, including grilled chicken, fresh and cooked vegetables, a salad bar, a deli bar, and fruits.

“From my perspective, we give you a variety and you can make your choices,” said Van Den Berg.

While some underclassmen may blame The Commons for the extra pounds they gain this semester, upperclassmen must battle finding healthy options while on a budget.

Senior Cara Slagter is just one of many students who find it hard to eat healthy in college. “It is difficult because you are trying to not spend a lot of money and healthy foods tend to be more expensive. Also, there isn’t a ton of time that I have to devote to cooking a healthy meal.”

Beth Baas, the director of student health services at Dordt, had a lot of tips and advice for students to eat and shop healthy while on a budget (see side box).

“Buying fresh fruits and vegetables for students seems more expensive and they spoil quicker than things in cans,” said Baas. “The nutritional value in fresh things is always better, but if you can’t do fresh, that doesn’t mean don’t do it. It means then to make healthy choices with other options, like canned fruit.”

One of the things that both Baas and Van Den Berg stressed, is for students to plan their meals with the plate visual in mind: half of your plate should have fruits and vegetables, with one fourth grains and the other fourth with protein (visual depicted above).

“Students think ‘I don’t have to worry about eating healthy yet, I can live off of processed food and make it through,’ but it’s contributing to their life-long health. Because they don’t see that yet, they’re not so convicted to make smart choices,” said Baas. “A healthy diet in college years sets you on a good course for maintaining a healthy diet throughout life.”

Kelly Zatlin, Head Editor

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