In-Dorm Cooking Creates Healthier Eating Options

By CAROLINE BEATRICE
On September 28, 2016

Photo courtesy of Rootology, Wikipedia

With Cars being open late at night, Cup of Noodles being so easy to make and pizza being so versatile it can be eaten hot or cold, it is no wonder the “freshman 15” is a harsh reality. Cafeteria food is not the healthiest option, which leaves many students to fend for themselves.

Dollar menus may be the best on wallets, but it definitely is not the best option for stomachs. A survey conducted by the Public Health, Research, Practice and Policy by CDC discloses how in 2005, 3 in every 10 college students are overweight or obese. A separate study conducted by the University of Boynton Health Service in 2007 showed 38.5% of students were overweight or obese. The numbers are continuously rising, because students are more prone to drinking on the weekends, ordering food late at night or going to the closest vending machine. Frequent exercise, cooking your own meals and incorporating fruits and vegetables into everyday diets are necessary in becoming healthier.

Sophomore Sumner LaForge frequently goes to the Birch Tree Inn to eat. She misses home-cooked meals but she is not “used to cooking for myself and since we only have a stovetop my options are limited. If I cook for myself I mostly make pasta.” Had the College Park Apartments contained an oven, LaForge would “definitely bake and cook [more], but without an oven there is nothing I can make.”

With stovetop options being limited it becomes tough for students who want to cook to do so. Sophomore Madigan Petrie lives in Laurel Hall, where she does not have a kitchen, yet enjoys making her own food but is limited in what she can make. “Usually I can only make toast with peanut butter and banana or I will make myself a protein shake. Luckily, my boyfriend has a kitchen in his room and we make chicken dinners there.”

The Village apartments contain a full kitchen perfect for cooking. Junior Kara Mackin prepares all of her meals in her dorm. Though cooking for oneself takes more time than grabbing cafeteria food to go, the health benefits from home cooked meals usually provide more protein and less saturated fats.

“In my opinion, it’s definitely worth it to put in the extra effort for your own health. I would say it takes about an hour and a half a day at most spent on preparation and cooking.” Eating at the cafeteria is barely a thought in Mackin’s mind and would only be considered if “[the staff] were to list all the ingredients, even [listing] the preservatives would make me feel better about eating there." Mackin has been vegan for six months and prepares vegan meals in her room everyday. "I usually cook rice or quinoa with steamed vegies or potatoes and veggie nuggets.” She has found that since she stopped eating cafeteria food and started cooking for herself she has felt her health improve.

With obesity and diabetes becoming a growing national concern in college students, more students cooking their own healthy meals would decrease the ratings. Healthier alternatives such as fruits and vegetables are necessary in becoming healthier. Peanut butter is also a great snack loaded with proteins essential for weight loss. If more students cook for themselves, the rising number of health issues can be slashed and future generations to come will be healthier.

cbeatric@ramapo.edu

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