Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Know what you eat

Audrey Buckley

When we come to UT as students, we are empowered to control nearly every aspect of our lives. We decide how we spend our time, who we hang out with and the classes we attend (or don’t attend). Our food choices are one of the most important and impactful aspects under our control.

In particular, students should pay closer attention to nutritional information when buying groceries or going out to eat. 

Nutrition facts offer an overview of macronutrients, ingredients and recommended serving sizes. Learning to read nutrition labels is an essential part of being a more informed consumer.

While UT aims to give the students who eat in its dining halls options to build a complete diet, eating a healthy variety of food becomes much more difficult when living off-campus. West Campus lacks options for students to buy fresh groceries to cook at home.

“If I want food that’s very nutritionally available, other than the Target on campus, which is often out of all supplies, I have to go … (on) a bus ride,” computational biology senior Sai Ponnapalli said.

Looking at nutrition facts can help you meet dietary goals. Making an informed plan based on these dimensions removes the guesswork when making a shopping list and makes it easier to make healthier choices when you’re in a rush.

“I think nutrition is a lot easier when you plan it out,” Ponnappali said. “One of the biggest challenges I face is that days can get so busy and in the middle of them I don’t have the time to prepare my meals.”

Online resources, such as cooking influencers and recipe blogs, can be a great way to find more information about the food you eat and healthy recipes for alternatives to your favorite fast food. Many are designed to keep cooking time, ingredients and clean up time as low as possible. 

“I find recipes on TikTok as I’m scrolling, and those are catered towards college students,” computer science and business sophomore Zoya Farooqui said. “They are easy and you can keep them prepped for the rest of the week.”

Eating in moderation is important, and meeting this goal is aided by the % daily value listed on nutrition labels. 

Beth Widen, assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences, talked about some of the confusion that the families she works with experience when shopping.

“I try to go through with families and we actually look at different food labels together. And you know, compare what the food label looks like if it’s like 100% juice, versus like a juice drink. And then also like a juice that has a lot of added sugar in it,” said Widen.

However, students must understand that these daily values are based on the average American 2,000 calorie diet, and students must tailor them to their own calorie needs and goals.

“As a vegetarian, my protein intake over the past few years I’ve noticed is a lot less,” Ponnapalli said. “There’s a specific type of Pepperidge Farm bread that has a lot more proteins. I try to look for that.”

Furthermore, students should try to shop in person and take advantage of UT’s Grocery Shuttle. While ordering online is definitely more convenient and time efficient, going in store can help students make better decisions and find healthier alternatives. 

“It’s a little bit harder shopping online because at a grocery store, you go there and you can see everything you want,” Farooqui said.

Keeping nutritional information in mind is important when purchasing food, because when planned correctly, most foods fit into a complete diet.

Chandran is an advertising sophomore from Plano, Texas.

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