A healthier way to survive college: make good meal choices

Evan Halpop, Staff writer

For some students, eating at school or grabbing something from a fast food restaurant is the easiest way to get through the day while they go to class and study. Anna Marie Hoffmann, Madison College health educator, says that the convenience of these foods isn’t always worth the negative impact on one’s health.

These are not the most nutritious meal choices, especially since fast food and other convenient edibles amp up the fat, sugar and salt, which make the student’s brain crave more. In the end that not only hurts one’s budget, but it has both long-term and short-term consequences to the health of the individual. Eating excessive amounts of this type of food raises the likelihood of becoming obese and having above normal lipid levels in the bloodstream.

Eating healthier doesn’t have to feel like a burden on the budget. Hoffmann says there are many affordable alternatives to eating out that will not only boost the energy of the student’s body longer, but can be a lot more cost friendly as well. The Dane County Farmers’ Market can be a great place to pick out some of the vegetables since they are local, fresh and nutritious.

Bill Lubing, manager of the Dane County Farmers’ Market, says one main difference between a grocery store and the farmers’ market is that the produce is fresher. In addition there is normally a wider variety of vegetables and other ethnic foods at the market than at the grocery store.

The farmers’ market can be an affordable source of nutritious food. Wayne Morris of Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin points out that the farmers market is open to those who receive food-share. The same rules apply to the farmers’ market as they do at the grocery store.

Here are some great alternative meal and snack ideas, made with items found at the farmers’ market, that are not only cost-friendly but tasty, too.

Make or purchase whole grain sandwiches and include low-fat lean meat, lettuce, spinach, tomato and onion. The best way to lose weight faster is by cutting out the sauces, dressing and mayonnaise, which contribute empty calories.

Slow cooking and baking meat are good options. Add a variety of different vegetables (green beans, carrots, peas, corn, peppers, etc.). The result is a tasty, healthy meal with the possibility of leftovers for another day.

Making homemade fruit smoothies and taking them in a sealable drinking container is a great way to get many different vitamins, potassium and other nutrients.

Berries, nuts, yogurt and string cheese make for very tasty, affordable and healthy snacks that will provide energy longer than a burger, chips and a soda.