Most first-year students at the University of Iowa choose to live in the residence halls. The meal plans required for on-campus residents can be a great way to experience this newfound independence. However, the new surroundings can often create difficulty with forming new eating habits.
While the change of atmosphere and lack of home-cooked meals can feel like a confusing thing, a helpful way to cope with these changes is by grabbing a few friends and indulging in some healthy food at the three dining halls.
Healthy eating can be a tricky subject for young adults. Throw in the stress of homesickness and having difficult exams, and the issue can get worse. One of the main ways to make sure that you are getting the most out of your daily visits to the dining halls is to start off the day with a fulfilling breakfast. With classes and a busy schedule, making time to fit in a morning meal can seem burdensome; however, studies such as the ones conducted through the U.S National Library of Medicine, show a positive correlation between eating breakfast and academic performance in the classroom.
Like most first-year students, I didn’t know much about UI dorm life before I arrived on campus. The dining halls at the UI have a knack for catering to every appetite. As a plant-based foodie, my time living on campus was spent eaten at the market places where I could find several options to suit my needs. An added benefit to those students with gluten sensitivity, the dining halls also offer gluten-free baked options such as breads and bagels.
Something that may not be well-known to individuals with meal plans is that each of the food options in the dining halls is labeled with icons showing the different allergens it contains.
In addition, that day’s menu can be found on the UI’s website with a link to the nutrition page, giving you an easy way to see exactly what you are eating. While managing what you eat is resourceful, it’s important to be clear that healthy eating is not the same as dieting.
Nutritionist Rebecca Scritchfield, interviewed in HuffPost, said said the secret behind healthy eating is learning to balance your plate and making intuitive decisions.
“The less processed the better, but don’t obsess over perfect food,” Scritchfield said in the HuffPost article. “It’s not realistic or normal to require every meal and snack is perfectly unprocessed.”
The bottom line is to not religiously restrict yourself from enjoying the ice cream machine in Hillcrest or the burger bar at Catlett. Sometimes the healthiest thing to eat is something that will nourish not only your body, but your mental health as well.
Healthy eating habits are possible, even as a college student. The key is learning to choose foods that create a balanced diet.
Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.