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Healthy Eating on the Run for College Students

Lifestyle & Opinion

By Susan G. Ellis

College students on the run face a dilemma.  What should I eat?  They buy supersize sodas, fried chicken nuggets, fat laden burgers, french fries, chips, candy, and cookies from the vending machines at school.  They walk around “starving,” yet they gain weight.

A study of college student weight gain in the Journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2012, found seventy percent of students gained weight, from an average of 12 pounds to a high of 37 pounds.  Male students showed greater weight gains than female students.  The study recommended colleges increase their health promotion strategies.

Katie Kelly is a St. Petersburg College student who tries to eat healthy options.  She had an evening class and was “starving.”  She bought Sun Chips and Diet Coke.  She said, “This was the healthiest option the vending machine had.  I wanted to buy a granola bar and water.”

Even if you have to eat on the run, you can choose healthier food options to minimize weight gain and provide greater nutrition. For instance, Boston Market has reduced sodium in its meals by 20%, while Burger King offers options such as the grilled chicken wrap. The food venues at the downtown campus and the Epicenter of SPC are provided by Nature’s Table: menu.

What can you eat when you Iive a life on the run?

  1. Eat breakfast so you don’t “starve” and want to grab impulse foods later.
  2. Plan your meals.  On weekends, organize what you will eat for the week.
  3. Bring snacks such as fruit, granola bars, trail mix, nuts, hummus, pita bread, tuna packs, salad, and sandwiches.
  4. Buy fruit instead of sweetened dessert foods and beverages.
  5. Be aware of and careful about impulse buying at the point of sale.
  6. Ask for the nutritional information from the restaurant or fast food establishment.
  7. Look for low sodium, low or no sugar added, and baked or broiled rather than fried foods.
  8. Choose fruits, vegetables, veggie burgers, and the least processed food options on the menu.
  9. Bring water.
  10. Ask the manager of fast food chains to point out the healthiest items on the menu.
  11. Keep emergency food with you so you are not “starving” and compelled to buy junk food options.

You can control the food choices you eat, even if you live on the run!

Bio:  Susan G. Ellis, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist with an office in Largo, FL.  She has a doctorate and master’s degree in psychology, and a master’s degree in health education.  She is interested in health promotion on college campuses.

Photography by Susan G. Ellis

Originally published on Oct 10, 2014.

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