With stuffed schedules, some students forget to stuff their faces

Caroline Betik

Many students can relate to juggling a packed schedule and quickly grabbing a granola bar for breakfast, or a burger and fries before heading to their next class. As students take on more responsibilities, convenience dining has become a popular part of the culture on campus over the past years.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner were once staple meals in the lives of Americans. However, many college students opt to skip meals in order to save time. As more convenient foods tend to dominate the marketplace, they have also won over the limited amount of cash or Bevo Bucks UT students have throughout
the year.

With access to Jester City Limits, Kin’s Market and many fast food shops located around UT, it’s easier to build a habit of fast food snacking rather than sitting down to eat a
balanced meal.

Advertising freshman Ricky Martinez said he tries to find time to eat meals, but due to his schedule, he usually resorts to having two meals a day with snacks in between.

“I prefer meals over snacks, but most of the time snacks are more convenient,” Martinez said. “I eat a lot of chips, popcorn, peanut butter … really all the typical college student snacks. When I do eat meals, I usually grab a burger and fries from Jester City Limits,
Wendy’s or Chick-fil-A.”

While grab-and-go food is the most opportune, this habit is not the best option for nourishing our bodies as students may think.

According to The ‘Freshman 5’: A Meta-Analysis of Weight Gain in the Freshman Year of College, written by Rachel A. Vella-Zarb and Frank J. Elgar, potential predictors of weight gain among students include high junk food consumption, overeating and snacking.

Jennifer Barnoud, registered dietitian at University Health Services, released a pamphlet for students titled “Food and Mood” this month that stresses the importance of a balanced meal and eating nutrient-dense snacks to sustain a regular daily food intake.

“Include whole grains, lean proteins, unsaturated fats, calcium, fruits, and vegetables (to encompass a balanced meal),” Barnoud writes. “Choose snacks like whole fruits, nuts or whole grain crackers. Add a powerful nutritional punch to your day by having dark green and orange/red vegetables.”

Undeclared freshman Estefany Mora said she understands the importance of getting the proper nutrients, but because she is so busy, she only eats meals whenever she thinks she actually should eat.

“I do not normally eat the traditional three meals a day,” Mora said. “This (dinner) is my first real meal I had in awhile. I did not eat a meal yesterday because I had class and meetings. I normally eat snacks like an apple or granola, something with substance to get me through the day. I would prefer to have a full meal, but snacking is usually my best option.”

In “Food and Mood,” Barnoud writes that because “hanger” — angry hunger — is a real thing which can easily affect mood and other parts of the body, students should try to acquire adequate calories by eating every 3 to 5 hours.

“Include complex carbohydrates and protein with every meal to stabilize blood sugar and mood,” Barnoud wrote. “This also helps prevent crescendo eating. Eating mindfully encourages healthy choices and weight. It also reduces risk for extreme eating behaviors. Your body is wise. Listen to it!”