College students menu changing

By The Columbia Chronicle

by: Priya Shah

Burgers, French fries, mac and cheese, frozen pizza, potato chips—the  list is endless. It’s no secret that fast food, packaged and frozen food items are unhealthy.

It’s hard to entirely eliminate these food items from a college student’s diet. But as complicated as it may sound, it’s not that hard to incorporate healthy eating into a daily lifestyle. Of course, sometimes eating healthier may not appear as exciting as going out to a dinner or grabbing something from McDonalds.  However, the effects are better in the long run.

“It doesn’t have to be that complicated,” said Patty Minta, a registered dietitian, author and public speaker. “[Don’t always go] for the quick box of macaroni and cheese, but maybe a little bit of whole grain noodles with a little bit of parmesan cheese sprinkled over them. [It] is a much healthier alternative.”

Minta suggests doing simple things such as ordering a side salad instead of fries at a restaurant.

Her book, Mom, What’s for Dinner? is a guide for busy parents on how to plan and prepare nutritious meals.

It’s an easy step-by-step guide that helps readers plan meals for a week or two at a time. Minta said anyone can use her book to learn tips on healthy eating, even college students.

For those who are on a budget, there are healthier and cheap options too. It’s sensible to pack a lunch instead of dining out or going into a fast food place. One thing to do is grocery shop and become well acquainted with the produce section.

“If you go for a bag of chips—those are $2.50 each typically, whereas you can get a whole bag of apples or a bag of baby carrots [for that price],” Minta said.

Elizabeth Hamsher, 20-year-old Columbia student, is practicing eating healthier every day by bringing snacks such as apples, strawberries, oranges, cucumbers and grapes with her to school.  She said she goes grocery shopping weekly, whereas about a year ago she would only grocery shop when she ran out of food.

As an aspiring actress, Hamsher said she believes it’s important to maintain a healthy diet because of her career choice, but said that she generally started eating healthy because she wanted to feel better about herself.

“I didn’t feel groggy throughout the day and felt like I had more energy,” Hamsher said. “[But] it’s just hard being a college student and managing your time.”

Spending the time to plan and think about what to eat for the week can be challenging said Anne Weber, the co-founder of Green Bag Lunch.

Green Bag Lunch provides parents the option of ordering lunches and snacks for their kids in elementary school. She said that people who don’t plan ahead usually end up buying things at the last minute and although those items might be convenient, they are also the most unhealthy.

“For college students, it can really be a challenge to find things that can work well in a limited prep kitchen,” Weber said. “It’s hard for them to have storage, it’s [also] hard for them to have lots of pots and pans, so things that they can eat [are] raw fruits and vegetables.”

A balanced diet should be an important priority and college students should learn to incorporate it early on in their lives.

“If you eat more of the good stuff [fruits and vegetables and less processed food] most of the time, it won’t be such a big deal if twice a week you grab a Chipotle burrito,” said Manda Aufochs Gillespie, an environmentalist, writer and consultant in the Chicago area as well as the president and founder of The Green Mama LLC. Gillespie, also known as

“Green Mama,” encourages people to find a balance in their diet.

“My main goal is to make it easier [and more fun] for other mamas to choose a greener path as well,” Gillespie said. She stresses that college students still have developing bodies and should think about the importance of organic products.