Often college students have plenty of busy work on their plates, it can be challenging to manage classes, work, family time, and social life. Prioritizing eating healthy can be difficult to manage. In addition, it can be difficult to maintain healthy eating habits and avoid fast food. The main question is do college students have healthy eating habits? Although there are enormous benefits of healthy eating for long-term health, many college students tend to have unhealthy eating habits such as consuming high fatty foods, and inadequate intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, nuts, and seeds. A diet rich in essential nutrients can provide energy, enhance academic performance, better sleeping patterns, improve stress, and increase concentration in college students. According to New York University, several elements influence one’s ability to eat healthily. Time, availability of healthy options, eating habits of peers, and nutritional understanding are all factors that influence dietary patterns among students. Healthy eating can be encouraged at the schools by making healthy options more inexpensive, accessible, and appealing, as well as offering knowledge on how to make healthy food and beverage choices.
Why do College Students Rely on Fast Food?
According to NYU, on average, college students eat at fast-food restaurants 1 to 3 times per week. Fast food is inexpensive and accessible, in the US you can find restaurants on every corner of the street. It is available in large quantities. Restaurants are open during the day and late at night. College students tend to have busy schedules and after attending lectures all day they have no energy to cook, they may choose fast food to fulfill their hunger. Another reason is that it is surrounded by them, while some cafeterias serve healthy food many don’t. Environments play an important role in what students choose to eat. If the campus is providing junk food, it is just convenient and easy to grab on the go. In addition, peers can influence what other students eat. A lot of time students gather and consume fast food together or during parties. Another reason could be students are not able to afford good quality food because healthy food can expensive.
Why fast food is bad for you?
According to Cleveland Clinic, Fast food has an effect on blood sugar and blood pressure, increases cholesterol levels, causes weight gain, causes inflammation, and may indicate that a person is not getting enough nutrition. In the long run, a fast-food-heavy diet may cause digestive problems, inflammation, heart disease, obesity, and other health problems. Some common Fast food includes Pizza, burgers and fries, hot dogs, cold cuts, and fried chicken.
How to make healthier food choices?
You can manage to eat fast food without jeopardizing your healthy diet for example include lean proteins, vegetables, and fiber in your diet and avoid excessive quantities. Here are some suggestions based on New York University:
- Incorporate fresh vegetables and fruits in your order to guarantee essentials nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Increase the availability of water and low-calorie beverages on campus.
- Reduce the availability and accessibility of calorie-dense and nutritionally empty items on campus such as fat, sugar, and high calories items.
- Visit your campus food pantry if you struggle with affording food
- Learn to read food labels/ nutritional content