You know the story. 18 year-old kid graduates from high school, moves into dorms, and starts college. Before, he used to rely on his parents to cook for him, but now since he is away from home, at the dining commons, he has greater agency to choose what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. After a couple semesters of the same old dining hall pizza, unlimited ice cream, and dorm room instant ramen (and party alcohol/tailgating) and even more weight gain may occur after leaving the dorms and moving into an apartment for independent living during the sophomore, junior, and senior years.
Undoubtedly, attending college is a period of time of learning about yourself and attaining different life skills, but between stressful exams, writing papers, studying, and sometimes working, not every college student has/learns basic cooking skills or makes the best picks when grocery shopping. This lack of essential know-how for food preparation can be problematic to public health and contributes to rising obesity rates. Generally, young adults’ food culture and choices are dominated by purchasing or making meals that are quick, easy, and convenient, but unfortunately, these microwave-ready and fast food selections are large in portion size and are high in saturated fat and sodium. So how can this remedied?
Typically, home-cooked meals can be healthier because people have the power to choose what goes into their food and to know exactly what their finished dish contains. Consequently, a few universities have opted to offer courses that coach students to be more savvy in the kitchen and at the grocery store and that teach fundamental cooking skills. For example, Stanford University’s dining services has unveiled the “Teaching Kitchen” program, headed by noted British chef, Jamie Oliver, and Oregon State University and the University of Minnesota’s Boynton Health Service have offered similar programs to their own students.
Nonetheless, not all universities offer such seminars, but the accessibility to essential kitchen knowledge is available through the internet. SpoonUniversity.com, CollegeRecipes.com, and NotYourAverageCollegeFood.com are sites and blogs that have recipes with easy kitchen hacks and for delicious meals for the busy college student. If students can be more knowledgeable in cooking and making more healthful food choices, then perhaps the current rising trend of nutrition-related health issues, such as obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and increased risk of diabetes, in young adults can be improved.
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