Between microwave meals, midnight pizza runs, and the inevitable second dinner, maintaining a healthy diet in college is certainly difficult—but not impossible. With a busy schedule and shrinking bank account, it can be hard to devote time (and money) to prioritize eating your veggies. This is why we talked to three Registered Dietitians to get their take on eating healthy in college—beginning with the grocery list.
Shop frozen fruits and veggies
Fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive, and they also come with an unwanted deadline. To save time and money on frequent grocery trips and wasted food, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Jenna Gorhamrd recommends taking a walk down the frozen aisle for your basic fruits and veggies. “Frozen fruits and veggies are another great option to keep on hand,” says Jenna. “They’re just as nutritious as fresh produce but last longer.” And, if you’re losing space in the freezer, canned fruits and vegetables are also a low-commitment way of getting your five servings a day.
Prepare with Pinterest
When it comes to finding easy recipes, Pinterest is your best friend. Jenny Dang, Registered Dietitian and blogger of “Nutrition with Jenny,” recommends using Pinterest to help formulate your weekly grocery list. Whether you’re working with a full kitchen or a simple microwave, it’s a quick way to search for easy (and cheap) healthy meals. However, your grocery list shouldn’t just be ingredients for your latest Pinterest finds. It should also include smaller items for mixing and matching with your meals or for snacking on their own. “For example, bananas can be eaten with oatmeal, cereal, or toast for breakfast, or [they] can be easily carried in your bag and eaten as a snack in between classes,” says Jenny.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive as long as you’re prepared to use your math skills for some quick in store calculations. When it comes to grocery shopping, Jenny’s a huge proponent of buying in bulk. “Bulk items are often cheaper, especially when you compare the unit prices of items,” says Jenny. “For example, a 6-oz container of greek yogurt may be listed as $1, but the unit price is listed as $0.17 per ounce. ($1/6 oz = $0.17). A 32-ounce container of yogurt may be priced as $3.99, but the unit price is $0.12 per ounce. ($3.99/32 oz = $0.12) So, the 32-ounce container of yogurt offers more for your money.”
Skip the beverages
No, we’re not just talking alcoholic beverages. Think soda, energy drinks, and basically anything that’s packed with extra sugar. Even drinks typically labeled “healthy” may spike your sugar intake a little more than recommended. Registered Dietitian Rebecca Kerkenbush, who is a Clinical Dietitian-Advanced Practice and Board Certified Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition at Watertown Regional Medical Center, has two tips for juice drinkers: make sure your vegetable juice is low sodium and that your fruit juice is 100% real fruit juice. Chances are if you’re questioning the nutritional value of your go-to beverage, it’s probably best to just stick with water.
Cheeseburger Happy Meals Will No Longer be a Thing
In an effort to make their kids’ meals a tad bit healthier by reducing excess calories, sodium, and saturated fat, McDonald’s is making a few changes to their beloved Happy Meal and saying goodbye to staple items, including cheeseburgers and chocolate milk.
On Thursday, the fast food giant announced on Twitter that they will be cutting and changing items on their menu to will focus on, “nutrition criteria, simplifying ingredients, transparent nutrition information, recommended food groups, and responsible marketing.”
While diners can still request the “banished” menu items, McDonald’s believes that not listing the item will reduce how often they are ordered. In fact, according to the company, when soda was removed from the Happy Meal section of its menu boards in 2013, there was a 14% increase in the number of Happy Meals with water, milk, or juice as the choice of beverage.
We can expect to see several changes to the Happy Meal menu in the U.S. this year. The meals will have 600 calories or less, with only 10% of those calories coming from saturated fats and 10% from added sugar, and the meals are to have less than 650 milligrams of sodium. The six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meal will switched out with the kids sized fries, cutting the amount of calories and sodium in the serving of fries by half.
By June 2018, 100% of the meal combinations offered in the U.S. will be 600 calories or less, and all those combinations with be compliant with the new criteria for added sugar and saturated fat. However, 22% of the meals will not be compliant with the new sodium criteria, yet.
The evolution of the Happy Meal does not stop there. Currently, 28% of the Happy Meal combinations offered on the menu boards in 20 of McDonald’s major market meet the new criteria. By the end of 2022, McDonald’s aims to have at least 50% or more of the Happy Meals listed on menus worldwide follow the new nutrition criteria. These changes will result in an average reduction of 20% in calories, 50% in added sugars, 14% in saturated fat, and/or 17% in sodium, depending on each customer’s meal selection.
Even the Happy Meals toys are also going to be taking a hit. By 2019, children in more than 100 markets will have the option of choosing a book or a toy year-round with their Happy Meal.
“We recognize the opportunity that we have to support families as one of the most visited restaurants in the world, and remain committed to elevating our food, celebrating the joy of reading, and helping those in need through Ronald McDonald House Charities,” said McDonald’s president and CEO Steve Easterbrook in the press statement released Thursday. “Given our scale and reach, we hope these actions will bring more choices to consumers and uniquely benefit millions of families, which are important steps as we build a better McDonald’s.”
University of Wisconsin Students are NOT Happy About Freshmen Meal Plan
UW-Madison students blocked the school’s biggest dining hall in a protest yesterday.
Some students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are really upset about the school’s meal plan for incoming freshmen. A group of students blocked access to the school’s largest dining hall yesterday in protest over a plan that will make it mandatory for incoming freshman living in UW residence halls to deposit a minimum of $1,400 into a meal plan account.
Protesters read testimonies describing how the meal plan will negatively impact low-income students and those with dietary restrictions, as well as chanted slogans like “I can’t eat” before marching through the market area of the dining hall and eventually blocking the entrance to the market for about 15 minutes.
— The Daily Cardinal (@dailycardinal) February 14, 2018
The plan was announced in December and is scheduled to billed to students on a quarterly basis, depending on the number of meals a students consumes.
Student Rena Newman was also upset that students were not informed of the policy in what she felt was a proper way, telling the Badger-Herald “We didn’t find out about this policy through transparency. We found out through a news story after the policy had already been implemented.”
No student representative was part of the decision making process, by all accounts.
University officials said they were aware of the planned protest and welcomed the students views and respect their right to express them.
Protesters are throwing dining trays and chanting “no justice, no peace, this meal plan can’t eat” pic.twitter.com/CHsH9cz7YO
— Lawrence Andrea (@LAndrea_21) February 14, 2018
— Abby Doeden (@abbsdoeden) February 14, 2018
Dunkin’ to Stop Using Foam Cups by 2020
And it’s about time, too.
There has always been something different about getting coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s a no-frill — but super tasty — alternative to Starbucks or your local brewer, with down home, no-frills feel.
And they serve their brew in those foam cups. Comforting and easy to grab, sure, but not very good for the environment.
Dunkin’ announced today that those polystyrene foam cups will be completely phased out from its stores globally by 2020, reducing the waste stream by millions.
Foam packaging of any kind decomposes very slowly, washes into waterways and can harm sea life and other creatures who depend on the water supply to live.
McDonald’s also said it will get rid of any remaining foam cups in the next few years as well, though they have already drastically reduced dependance on them.
So raise one to Dunkin’ for taking a step in an environmentally friendly direction.
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