We have all been there, trust me, it’s 1:13am and whether intoxicated or not Taco Bell seems like a wonderful idea. The cheese, carbs, and the later regrettable meat and beans combo is what our brain is fixated on. These nightly delicious outings can become frequent and often lead to that dreaded Freshman 15. Our reasons for reaching for these types of foods during college can stem from several different places; whether 90% of your money went toward concert tickets to Coachella or your roommates have made a habit of drunchies on the living room floor and gossiping after a night out, you can find yourself buying into a certain college norm that deems it standard to make poor food choices. How many of these are a staple in your diet?
- Ramen: A college (and Prof. Rubenstein) favorite since the beginning. Nothing says “college” quite like eating Ramen every night for dinner because you are too broke to afford real pasta. This high-sodium bowl of soup has been there through dead week, break ups, and all-nighters, why would you ever want to give it up?
- Fast Food: More importantly, Chipotle. I don’t care what part of the nation you are from, Chipotle is a college staple, especially in SLO and especially for girls. The idea of being able to customize our meal convinces us that our choices are healthy, but even before a single ingredient is added onto a Chipotle burrito, the tortilla alone is 290 calories. Once you add steak, sour cream, cheese, and guacamole, it comes out to 1,200 calories and about 2 lbs on average, talk about a food baby!
- Gas Station Food: Something about being able to buy your beer, slurpies, firewood, Slim Jims, and sunglasses all in the same place is enchanting to college students who value ease. Multiple times, 7/11 has been the dinner restaurant of choice for my friends. I mean, who would pass up taquitos that have been under the heat lamp all day? The assortment of food that gas stations offer leads to meal choices that include Hot Cheetos, corn dogs,and ice-cream sandwiches…yes, plural sandwiches.
- Drunchies/Munchies: Now I know this is not a specific food but it is most definitely a type of food, usually high in sugar, fat, carbs, calories, and regret. Everything from Hot Pockets, to nachos, to entire boxes of Girl Scout cookies, to whatever your roommate was hiding from you in the fridge. Nothing was off limits, including the leftovers from Buffalo Wild Wings 8 nights ago (10
secondday rule, right?)
- Alcohol: In every form, at any time of the day, a college student is usually down to drink with their friends despite midterms or interviews the next day, or even class in a couple hours. The saying, “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a college student!” defines the binge drinking culture that is now an acceptable norm among the twenty-somethings.
- Caffeine: Whether it be your venti soy latte with 3 pumps of sugar-free vanilla and an extra shot of espresso or the Red Bull that you have to down before being fully awake, in between class, and before going out, college students are addicted to caffeine. To be a functioning (alright, semi-functioning) adult in college the average student uses 10 times the caffeine recommended by health care professionals.
What many college students don’t understand is that their health choices now, set the trend for the rest of their life. “The first problems associated with heart disease start in the early twenties,” said Melissa Wdowik, the director of the Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center, in an article for Collegian Central. The culmination of alcohol, stress, poor nutrition and decreased exercise habits are risk factors for many chronic diseases down the road, and if college students aren’t careful that Freshman 15 will escalate quickly and become obesity and then diabetes in the future. As young students, we take our health for granted but we need to realize that down the road we will have wished that we took care of ourselves and developed healthy habits earlier in life. Will you regret your continued health choices in 50 years? Let us find value in eating healthy, let us be moderate and in control of our alcohol intake, and let us help each other make better nutritional decisions. This is a crusade against early aging, early disability, and early death; this is Mind Over Platter.