If there is one thing that the college student stereotype promises, it is being broke and gaining a couple of pounds. Sodexho dietician Linda Adams and nutrition professor Liz Applegate know this stereotype well. Here, they give students suggestions for filling their stomachs with healthy choices, without emptying their wallets.
Applegate, who assigns her students to keep a food log, sees just how these students are eating on a regular basis.
“Their biggest downfall is eating packaged, processed food, not fresh food,” Applegate said.
Adams also agrees that packages and processed foods can be harmful to the college student’s diet.
“Highly processed foods contain so many additives, stabilizers, texturizers, preservatives, colors, and flavor [and] are void of most nutrients until they are added back in after processing,” Adams said. “Why not eat the whole ingredients as is without all the processing?”
Along with avoiding processed foods, students are advised to eat four or five smaller meals a day as opposed to two large ones. Within these meals, there are necessary components for staying healthy.
“They should be eating a minimum of three pieces of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of vegetables a day,” Applegate explained. “This way they will get the nutrients that they need: vitamin C, A, and fiber for their good functioning intestine tract.”
Knowing what and what not to eat is helpful, but picking out the specific items on a budget is where most college students find the challenge. The items below are inexpensive goods that will satisfy your stomach without costing you your entire paycheck or your health.
Replace your whole milk or calorie-filled sodas with fat free milk and herbal teas. Fat free milk will provide you with the calcium you need for a healthy diet without the added fat, while herbal teas will offer you a drink with less sugar but just as much flavor. McColls fat free milk runs for $2.99 at Nugget while you can get a great two for $4 deal for Bigelow herbal teas at Safeway.
Use fresh oranges instead of orange juice to complement your breakfast in the morning. By buying the actual fruit, you will receive the same amount of vitamin C without the many added artificial sugars. You can find oranges, which are now coming into season, for $0.97 per pound at Nugget.
Stock up on soup for the wintertime chills. Vegetable soups can be an easy, healthy and cheap treat for staying warm during the cold weather. A lot of disease-preventing vegetables can be found in these soups. “Adding nonfat milk or soy milk helps too,” Applegate said. “You can get the protein you need and stay warm.”
Frozen vegetables can also be an easier, equally effective alternative to fresh vegetables. “Frozen vegetables can always stay in your freezer, so there aren’t any excuses for not having any,” Applegate said. Currently at Safeway, there is a three for $5 sale on mixed frozen vegetables, which include carrots, corn, green beans, and lima beans.
Fresh vegetables, such as celery and broccoli are great in nutritional value. Both contain several nutrients along with anti-viral properties and can be found in the produce circle for next to nothing. Broccoli runs for $0.69 at Safeway, while celery runs for $1.19 at Nugget.
Upgrade to whole grain. Instead of coating your marinara sauce over regular white pasta, use whole grain pasta instead. This choice will provide fiber that prevents constipation and promotes a healthy intestinal tract, while providing the same taste as regular pasta. The same applies to bread as well: Use whole wheat bread for your sandwiches and morning toasts. Safeway sells two packages of Barilla Whole Grain Pasta for four dollars, and Safeway Select 100 percent Whole Wheat bread for $2.49.
When cooking in the kitchen, use liquid oil instead of margarine. This can cut down on the fat content in your meals, especially if you use vegetable oil. Safeway sells Safeway Select Canola oil for only $3.49.
Applegate encouraged students to start paying attention to what they put in their mouths and in their bodies.
“Everyone is very careful with their iPod or MP3 player,” Applegate said. “If they paid that much attention to their body, they would be great … It’s the only [body] you have for your lifetime.”
INDU SUDHAKAR can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.