Between the chaos that is class, work and extracurricular obligations, some students have trouble finding the time to grab a bite to eat.
And when they do, it”s not always the healthiest option.
Marissa Rudley, University of Idaho campus dietitian, said while maintaining proper nutrition is integral to the welfare of an individual, eating healthy is something students often struggle with.
Rudley, who works with students to help them learn to eat well both on and off campus, said one of the most common problems she sees isn”t that students are eating unhealthy foods, but that they”re not eating at all.
“It can be really difficult to get consistent meals,” Rudley said. “As a consequence, I see a lot of students go long periods of time, maybe entire school days, without having a meal.”
Regardless of how normal it may seem to students to skip meals, Rudley said it is a detrimental habit.
“Your body is relying on consistent fuel to be effective – even if you”re not necessarily active,
your brain is a very energy intensive organ,” Rudley said. “Even if you”re just studying, you need to be eating every 3 to 5 hours to be thinking clearly and maintaining a positive mood.
Despite the difficulties of maintaining a healthy diet, Rudley said there are several things students can do to maintain healthy eating habits. She said it”s crucial to take the time to plan out weekly meals and snacks.
Regardless of whether they live on campus or off, Rudley said this is a strategy that works for students.
For those who live off campus or in the LLCs, Rudley said developing a plan is more about carving out the time to make a grocery list, shop for food and cook meals in advance.
“I cannot stress enough planning ahead,” Rudley said. “This encompasses everything from meal planning to grocery shopping to finding the time to cook meals in advance if you have the option.”
For on-campus students or those with meal plans through Vandal Dining, Rudley said developing a plan is more about making the time to eat at places on campus, as well as planning portion sizes and food selection.
In addition to viewing every option provided by dining services, Rudley said students should remember to include fruits and
vegetables in their meals. She said there will always be room for carbs and protein, but it”s important to get at least half of the plate covered with some fruit of vegetable.
Even if students are selecting healthy food options, Rudley said sugar-filled beverages like sodas, juices and energy drinks can also pose a problem for individuals. She said some students do not consider that beverages are a huge source of calories and provide artificial energy.
While choosing healthy options might be a challenge, Rudley said nearly every dining service on
ampus does provide healthier alternatives for students.
“Sometimes it can take a little bit of work, but there are a lot of options on campus,” Rudley said.
Rudley said dining options in the Idaho Commons, like Einstein”s, Sub Connection and Mien Bowl, offer healthy alter- natives, such as whole-wheat bagels, lean meat, brown rice and stir-fried veggies.
Payton Allert, a UI freshman who lives in the residence halls, said her experience with Vandal Dining has been a good one.
“Overall, I feel like the food (at Bob”s Place) is pretty good and they do a good job,” Allert said. “They always have the sandwich section open – I”m a cheerleader and have to eat at weird times, so when not
everything is open it”s nice that that is.”
While she feels it”s a challenge to make healthy choices while eating at places on campus, Allert said she appreciates that places like Bob”s provide students with the option to eat healthy.
“They give you enough options to maintain a healthy diet,” she said. “It”s just up to you.”
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