by Orielle Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence
College is starting, which means back to a busy schedule and barely finding time to eat. The college diet is widely known as the most dangerous and ambiguous. I mean, the saying “Freshman 15” didn’t come from nowhere. Although the diet of fast food (especially on the weekends) and the cheapest food from your local Walmart seem to be the main events, times are changing.
The life of a college student is busy; between classes we are doing homework, stressed out about homework, thinking about homework, or getting involved in clubs or sports. Food can be a hard topic to think about and plan for, so a lot of the time students are thought to go for the Taco Bell and McDonalds diet.
Recently, I’ve seen a shift in the eating habits of college students. Sure, there are still the students who eat fast food on the daily, but a lot of college students are cooking for themselves and making healthy meals. Granted, the weekends are another story. College parties and the desire to relax, deter students from cooking for themselves.
So is the “Freshmen 15” really fading? My answer would be no, not because of the fast food diet, but because students must learn to take care of themselves in terms of their eating habits. Students are frequenting the gym more often than they used to take the time to do. The gyms are packed with students on a daily basis and they are eating at the dining halls, which provides tons of healthy options for students to choose.
It is during the time when the dining halls are closed that students need to fend for themselves. This is what is causing the “Freshmen 15” that we refer to. Parents should teach their kids how to cook and choose healthy choices. Teach your kids to grow up with a love of salad (I know that’s a daunting task), but it is doable. My mom taught me to cook and love healthy food by making healthy food zesty, garlicky, and delicious.
Starting my freshmen year, I lost the “Freshmen 15” and I knew more vegans and vegetarians than ever before. Eating is a part of our culture, but healthy eating is more important than ever. How can we do this on a budget? Farmers markets, the produce section in a grocery store, learning to read labels and understand what we are consuming.
We don’t need the expensive stuff and we don’t need the McDonalds and Chick Fil-A. We can create healthy habits on a budget and that is becoming a part of the college life. Pre-prepared salads with delicious dressings are sold at every grocery store.
We are in a changing world and the upcoming generation is becoming more conscious about what they consume and how they consume. The college diet is no longer unhealthy all the time. Yes, there is the occasional unhealthy meal, but we are allowed to let ourselves have that every once in a while. The college diet is slowly becoming what we would call healthy, but this is due to the culture arising around food. Parents still need to give their kids this food education to ensure a successful freshmen year of college. There are so many resources out there to give students the help we need to make college habits healthier. So, lets make a pact to make that happen. I promise late night McDonalds runs will happen, but thankfully they will be much less often.