To eat or not to eat: overcoming obstacles to healthy eating

Starting from simple decisions like rejecting sugary drinks and opting for healthier options, “consciously healthy eating” has become a reality for many UVU students living with packed schedules and tight budgets.

Sometimes cheap junkfood can seem more appealing than more expensive fruits and vegetables. Graphic by Eric Burgon

If you owned an expensive sports car, would you risk ruining its engine by filling it with cheap fuel that would hinder its performance or cause damage? Most of us would not. Yet if we compare our bodies to sports cars, many of us would be doing exactly that.

“A healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition,” states the World Health Organization. However, many students do not consider themselves “consciously healthy eaters” and are unable to implement healthy habits in their lives.

Recently, an anonymous sample of students around campus was carried out by the UVU Review. The results of this sampling provided insights as to why some students struggle to eat healthily. Of the students surveyed*, 30% admitted to not being consciously healthy eaters. Listed below are common responses given for this behavior:

“I do not have the time or energy to make healthy meals,” explained one student. “My schedule makes it hard to sit down and eat healthy,” another student stated. “I just eat what sounds good,” said others. Based solely on student responses, time and money were the barriers most prevalent among students who did not consider themselves healthy.

Interestingly, these responses correlate with research done by Professor Giovanni Sogari and others who explain that, “Common barriers to healthy eating [among college students] were time constraints, unhealthy snacking, convenience high-calorie food, stress, high prices of healthy food, and easy access to junk food.”

On the other hand, seventy percent of students surveyed* admitted to eating healthily. Many of these students stated that they had avoided sugar and soft drinks for years in efforts to eat healthier, “tried to limit eating out in favor of cooking at home” and had learned that they “felt better while eating the healthiest they could.” One student admitted that although “I’m far from perfect, … thinking about [eating healthily] and being aware is a step in the right direction.”

According to Laurie Sudbrink of the American Management Association, that student was correct in their statement. “Change begins with awareness. … When we blame and make excuses, we become stuck where we are … [but] If we’re aware without judgment, we can see more objectively, and we’ll be able to hone in on the right areas,” Sudbrink stated.

Eating healthily is important for all people, and The World Health Organization (WHO) has spoken out about these benefits. Healthy eating “protects you against many chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer … [and] Eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats, are essential for healthy diet,” WHO claims

It is encouraging to know that many UVU students who face packed schedules, tight budgets, and limited free time have been able to incorporate simple and healthy habits into their lives. Starting from simple decisions like rejecting sugary drinks and opting for healthier options, consciously healthy eating has become a reality for them.

For healthy recipes and practical tips on how to incorporate healthy choices into a busy student schedule, visit the Recipes and Resources page published by UVU Wellness or visit the Student Health and Wellness Guide published by the Center for Online Education.

*Although measures were taken to preserve anonymity and genuine student response, the survey referenced was not controlled or scientific in any way, and is therefore subject to bias.

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