Ask any college student about their day, and they will go on and on about a life dictated by class schedules and timely submissions; you probably won’t find a mention of a good meal. Making time to sit down and have full-blown breakfast or lunch in the middle of this chaos is not that much of a priority, which is why most students resort to quick fixes and unhealthy choices when it comes to eating in college.
“I usually don’t have breakfast, I try to grab a nutrition bar or eat some cornflakes,” says Irene Ann George, a student from Christ University. “I know my food habits are unhealthy, but I am left with no option, because of time constraints,” she confides. For most college students like Irene, breakfast seems to be non-existent, other than an occasional cup of coffee to stay awake through classes. “I don’t see breakfast as the most important meal of the day, especially when I have dinner after 10 pm. Lunch, then, becomes more important,” observes Suparva Sagar, another student from Bengaluru. Snacks are what often make up for all the lost meals.
While post-grad student Akchayaa M tries her best to have three full meals a day, there are times when she too gives in; “Sometimes when I wake up really late, I skip breakfast but I make it a point to have a good lunch and dinner, because I have more time for that. I usually snack in the evenings, but when there are too many assignments, I end up stress eating,” she admits. The work-heavy university time-tables also play their part in having students compromise on food and sleep to meet deadlines. Stress eating, is quite common, especially during the tense pre-exam days.
Dietician Pooja Maheshwari says that students who move out of their homes have it even tougher. “Moving away from a space where all your dietary needs are taken care of to a place where you have to fend for yourself is hard. These students often prefer to eat out when they get the chance,” she says. Soon, eating out or ordering in becomes the norm. Even for those who wish to switch to a healthier diet, the high prices of nutritious food make it a difficult task. Pooja stresses on the many alternatives to store-bought snacks. “Simple foods like channa, buttermilk, dry fruit, are easy, healthy replacements to sugar-packed snacks,” she recommends.
It is an urgent need to spread awareness on nutrition and healthy eating among college students. Simple, proactive steps like meal planning and prep in advance will help them avoid skipping meals. Universities too should make it a priority to ensure that healthy food is made available on campus at affordable prices....