As college students with many grab-and-go food options, it’s easy to fall into a habit of eating unhealthy and gaining the freshman 15 or 20.
“It is very easy to eat unhealthy because there are many bad options,” said Hannah Fletcher, a freshman Christian leadership major. “And sometimes I am in a hurry and only have time to grab the unhealthy fast food.”
The United States is the most obese country, with 30.6 percent of its population suffering from obesity, said Michael Shaub, a Doctor of Chiropractics. If this statistic holds true to Belmont University, then about 2,117 students are overweight.
By concentrating on three categories of unhealthy eating–fat, toxins and sugar—eating healthy can become easier for everyone, even college students.
The U.S. has the highest amount of low-fat foods and diets in the world, but we are still suffering from the highest amount of fat intake, said Shaub.
A common misconception of fat is that it makes people fat; healthy fats help your body burn fat, build cell membrane, absorb vitamins and a plethora of other things, said Shaub.One type of fat is trans-fat.Healthy Fats:
Trans-fats are partially hydrogenated oils which improve both the shelf life and the flavor of foods such as frozen pizza, microwave popcorn and packaged cookies, according to a CNN report.
They are linked to causing coronary heart disease, an increase in low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, and increase the levels of lipoprotein and triglycerides, which are linked to cardiovascular disease, according to a CNN report.
The influence unhealthy trans-fats has pushed the Food and Drug Administration to ban artificial trans-fats on Nov. 7.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says removing trans fats from the U.S. food supply could prevent about 20,000 heart attacks a year and 7,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease,” according to a CNN report.
Besides trans-fat, saturated fat is also something to consider for good or bad.
“Saturated fatty acids are fully loaded with hydrogen atoms and contain only single bonds,” said Maria Scrimenti, a junior psychology major with a nutrition minor.
These fatty acids are found in animal meat fats, chocolate and tropical oils. Saturated fat helps the cell membrane to function, is the preferred fuel for the heart, prevents oxidation of cholesterol and many more things, said Shaub.
Toxins are also a major part of the food industry.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved approximately 3,000 food additives, preservatives and colorings. The average person ingests 150 pounds of additives every year, said Shaub.Food that do not contain toxins:
Organic fruits and vegetables
Grass fed beef
Free range chicken
Dairy from natural sources
The strawberry milkshakes from Burger King contain 47 ingredients, none of which are strawberries or milk. Instead the “milkshake” is loaded with things like amyl acentate, anethol, ionon and many other ingredients, said Shaub.
The Chicken McNuggets from McDonalds also contain some unsavory surprises.
One nugget does contain chicken in the 38 ingredients, but these ingredients also include anti-foaming agents such as dimethylpolyiloxen which is flammable. Also in the list of ingredients is tertiary butyl hydroquinone, derived from petroleum, which is fatal if too much is ingested, said Shaub.
Even though there is plenty of information floating around about the negatives of packaged foods, people still consume them regularly.
Pesticides add to the strange chemicals entering the food supply.
Three million tons of pesticides are used each year worldwide with more than 1,600 chemicals used in the production. Exposure has been linked to nervous system disorder, immune system suppression and many other damages, said Shaub.
Another basis for health concerns is the amount of sugar intake the average person has in per day.
The average person eats 53 teaspoons of sugar per day. This is equivalent to a five pound bag of sugar every 10 days, said Shaub. One-third of our dietary sugar comes from drinking soft drinks. The average American drinks 55 gallons of soda-pop each year and it takes 30 cups of water to neutralize one can, said Shaub.
“I would have to say Coke and Diet Coke products would be the worst food items in a dorm. This will rob the brain of focus and create chronic fatigue,” said Shaub.Hidden Sources of Sugar include:
BreadsHidden Sources of Sugar include:
Although there is much to look out for in a world of processed foods, there are some easy alternatives and mindsets to get into in order to live a healthier lifestyle.
“It’s really important to check labels, so if you see something that is really high in sugar and has trans-fat that’s not something you want to pick up,” said Scrimenti. “So stay away from Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and pizza.”
A good tip to remember for checking labels is the idea that the more convenient something is in packaging, the worse it will probably be for your body.
The same goes for the bakery items at What’s Bruin? or Starbucks. The items in stores that sell commercially-made baked goods are not good for your health since they have more preservatives. Also, checking the labels for the serving sizes is a good way of maintaining a balanced diet, said Scrimenti.
The healthier you eat, the more energy you’re going to be able to sustain throughout the day. When you’re eating right you feel healthy, confident in yourself and you feel on top of your game, said Scrimenti.
I believe that a healthy diet dictates my lifestyle. I get my energy and nutrients from my food, how my brain functions depends on what I eat, said Emily Dempsey, a sophomore songwriting major.
“Healthy eating is a lifestyle, not something that goes in and out of style,” said Scrimenti. “Once you decide to revamp your diet, do not do anything dramatic. ‘Cheat’ meals are healthy. They shock your metabolism and keep you sane.”
The process of checking for good fats, toxins and sugar takes time and patients, but having a healthy lifestyle can be a major change for good.
Healthy eating for less than $20Grocery List$1.35 carrots$1.00 green apples$0.90 beans$1.00 kale$6.56 frozen chicken$0.82 brown rice$1.44 cottage cheese$1.88 milk$1.28 oatmeal$3.67 black bean burger$19.90 total
Recipes: Breakfast of Quick Oats and Milk½ cup oats1 cup milkDash of salt (Optional)Combine oats and milk, with optional salt, in a medium microwave safe bowl. Stir to combine ingredients and prevent dry oats. Microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Once the oats are cooked, stir and enjoy.
Breakfast of Quick Oats, Milk and a Green Apple½ cup oats1 cup milkDash of salt (Optional)½ small green appleCombine oats and milk, with the option of salt, in a medium sided microwave safe bowl. Stir to combine ingredients and prevent dry oats. Set aside the uncooked oats. Wash, cut and peel the apple (if desired) and put chunks into oats and milk. Stir and place in the microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Once the oats are cooked, stir and enjoy!
Snack 1 of Cottage Cheese½ cup of cottage cheeseMeasure one serving of cottage cheese into a bowl or on a plate and enjoy!
Lunch of Kale, Carrots and a Black Bean Burger1 black bean burger1 large carrot1 small handful of kaleWash and peel large carrot and cut into manageable sticks. Set the carrot sticks aside and place the frozen black bean burger on a microwave safe plate and heat for 1-1 ½ minutes. While the burger is cooking tear and wash a small handful of kale. When the burger is done place kale and carrots on the plate and enjoy!
Snack of Cottage Cheese and a Green Apple½ cup of cottage cheese1 small green appleMeasure one serving of cottage cheese and put into a bowl or on a plate. Wash the green apple and either eat cut or whole.Dinner of Chicken, Carrots and Rice1 frozen chicken breast¼ cup of cooked wheat rice (Non instant)1 large carrotPoor the dry rice into a large microwave safe container. For every part rice, add two parts water (2 cups of rice needs 4 cups of water). It is best to have a lot of room left over in the container so the water does not boil over as it cooks the rice. Stir the water and rice together so dry rice is not left over after cooking. For the ¼ cup of rice microwave covered for about 10-15 minutes and let sit in the microwave for 5 minutes after cooking and before taking out. The bowl will be hot, so be careful. Stir and let sit covered if water still needs to be absorbed.Set the rice aside to wash and peel the large carrot and cut into manageable sticks. Set aside the carrot sticks and place a frozen chicken breast on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, place the serving of rice and carrots sticks on the plate to enjoy.
Dinner of Rice and Beans¼ wheat rice¼ dried beans (any type is good)Soak ¼ dried beans in 3 cups of cold water overnight. Drain the water and replace with 3 more cups in a microwave safe container. Microwave for 7-10 minutes covered. Stir and replace the cover and microwave for 17-25 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes before replacing the lid and continuing the microwave process. The container will be hot when taken out of the microwave! Drain the water and set aside to cool.Poor the dry rice into a large microwave safe container. For every part rice, add two parts water (2 cups of rice needs 4 cups of water). It is best to have a lot of room left over in the container so the water does not boil over as it cooks the rice. Stir the water and rice together so dry rice is not left over after cooking. For the ¼ cup of rice microwave covered for about 10-15 minutes and let sit in the microwave for 5 minutes after cooking and before taking out. The bowl will be hot, so be careful. Stir and let sit covered if water still needs to be absorbed.Combine the servings of rice and beans in a medium sized bowl and enjoy! Snack of a Green Apple1 small green appleBe sure to wash the apple before cutting or eating whole.