Eating healthy is a struggle for the best of us, but being in a dorm with a meal plan can make it all the more difficult.
Being health conscious is important for students even though it can be difficult, especially for those living in dorms who don’t have access to cooking appliances. Demaree Johnson, an associate family and consumer sciences professor, said there is a correlation between students who eat healthy and who do well in the classroom and generally have more energy for daily activities. Even though it may be difficult, there are ways to be healthy while living in the dorms even with limited resources.
“Nutrition is very important,” said Seth Gubler, Dixie State University’s director of student housing. “If a student is not healthy, I think they are going to suffer in the classroom.”
Gubler said being conscious of the things you eat is important to your overall wellbeing. He said, with a meal plan where many unhealthy foods are available, it comes down to the student to make healthy choices.
“An important aspect of a successful college student is eating healthy and taking care of [yourself],” Gubler said.
Gubler pointed out healthy food options in the Red Rock Café where many students use their meal plans such as the salad bar and Subway.
Johnson said cafeteria food and fast food can be bad for you because of the high salt content and larger portion sizes. She said, while the salt makes the food taste better, it isn’t very healthy. She said there are other things that contribute to eating healthy, including portion size.
“[In the cafeteria], portion size is much larger than what is considered a standard serving, so [students] are going to have to be proactive in choosing their food.”
She said it’s easy to eat too much salty or greasy food because it is readily available and you don’t have to make it yourself.
“Students need to set limits and rules because it’s so easy to just take the food and soda that are right in front of you,” Johnson said.
Gubler said the meal plan can be a good thing so long as students are thinking about being nutritious when picking their food. It can benefit students by freeing up time for students to focus on being more involved in school and the events on campus.
“[The meal plan] allows more time to study and socialize because you’re not shopping for your food or preparing it,” Gubler said.
Ramon Reyes, a sophomore criminal justice major from Corpus Christi, Texas, and a resident assistant of the dorms, said he wishes the market had more healthy food items, but there are still ways to be healthy.
“I start off the day with a fruit salad, and then, when it comes to dinner, I usually get chicken and another salad,” Reyes said.
Johnson said some small, easy choices for students to make when choosing what they want to eat are simple. Don’t add extra sauce because it is often high in sugar and salt. While salads may seem healthy, Johnson said certain toppings could be high in calories. She said students should refrain from adding too many croutons, cheese or high-calorie dressings.
While Johnson said five servings of vegetables and fruits per day is recommended, she can understand this being difficult for students to count. She suggests students start with at least one salad item per day and taking extra fruit for snacks instead of a bag of chips.
In the new dorms, Gubler said students will have the ability to prepare food on their own. They will have a refrigerator and microwave in their apartment as well as a community kitchen just down the hall.
Resident assistants of on-campus housing have organized some healthy eating seminars, Gubler said.
There is a difference in a person’s mood and overall well being aside from body weight and fitness that can be easily improved by choosing healthier food options, Johnson said. Eating healthy food can help a student mentally as well as making the physical changes that many young adults work for.
“I always think there’s an effect on what I eat and how I perform throughout the day,” Gubler said.