Healthy eating at college? It’s possible

Trying to live a healthy lifestyle in a college town where fast food restaurants are plentiful may prove difficult for students. But college life does not have to revolve around keg parties and late-night calls to Dominos.

By Lily Shawver
Contributing Writer

A study done by researchers at Auburn University shows that 70 percent of 131 students gained weight over four years at the university. The students gained between 12 and 37 pounds.

College weight gain is no longer just the “Freshman 15.” Weight gain is going beyond the first year because of a lack of healthy choices and habits, according to news.health.com.

Trying to live a healthy lifestyle in a college town where fast food restaurants are plentiful may prove difficult for students. But college life does not have to revolve around keg parties and late-night calls to Dominos.

Certified personal trainer Lacey Kerbs has been through similar struggles as a former college student. But with the right education and motivation she believes students can get on track to a healthy lifestyle just as she did.

“I believe educating students early on when entering the college scene, as well as offering healthy choices on campus are two major ways to create awareness and make healthy choices more accessible,” said Kerbs.

Finding sources to get more nutrient-dense food takes effort but is not impossible. Students like junior Ansley Platt show us that even though it may take a little more time and effort, it is possible to find the foods your body needs.

“A lot of times I’ll bring stuff back from Whole Foods in Birmingham and then I just try to buy as much produce and non-packaged foods from Publix and Target here in Tuscaloosa,” said Platt.

The University offers resources where students can easily get information on how to live an overall well balanced lifestyle. These resources include nutritionists and trainers at the Student Recreation Center, The Health Hut and even student-run organizations like Homegrown Alabama.

“I think that yes, whole foods are accessible to UA students,” said Homegrown Co-Market Manager Mary Clay Kline. “Our grocery stores do a decent job of keeping healthy foods stocked, too. The issue is educating students on eating healthy and why it is important.”

The question students might have is: Where do I start? Kerbs has several tips and tricks to help students get started with creating healthy habits.

Take a refillable water bottle to class; there are so many benefits to staying well hydrated. Having readily available protein bars, beef jerky and green drink powder packets as convenient snacks to have throughout the day. Finally, eating small meals throughout the day will help to keep your metabolism burning and will decrease the chance of binging on fast food later in the day.

“Peer pressure will always be there, but gaining control of one’s health at that age and making it a priority is so dang empowering,” said Kerbs. “It also usually attracts the kind of people you truly want in your life. I believe a healthy lifestyle powers every aspect of one’s life.”