advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Food Desert: Healthy Eating on Campus?

I am a freshman in college and trying to eat healthy. However, it seems as if there isn't much variety when it comes to healthy foods. Do you have any advice for staying healthy while living on a campus that is a "food desert"?

A
Answer (Published 12/24/2012)

You pose an interesting question. In an effort to answer it, I did some online research to see what, if anything, has changed since the days when "mystery meat" was the unappetizing centerpiece of college dining hall dinners. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many colleges and universities appear to be making serious efforts to help students eat healthy meals, avoid the infamous (and probably mythical) "freshman 15"-pound weight gain, and accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets as well as the needs of students for kosher or halal foods.  I even came across a Huffington Post blog from 2011 on the 10 Healthiest Dining Halls in America, and I learned that in 2006 the University of California at Berkeley became the first certified organic kitchen at an American university.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet! - Everything you need to get started eating a healthful, satisfying diet is here - including eating and shopping guides, over 300 recipes, and an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid! Start your 14-day free trial now - and start eating anti-inflammatory today!

Some of what I found online was educational, such as tips on healthy eating, identification of healthy choices among food options available in dining halls, healthy cooking tips for students living off campus, and lists of the menu offerings at nearby restaurants. I also came across a 2011 study by researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) showing that of 582 college students surveyed, most weren't eating a single serving of fruits or vegetables per day, were consuming too much fat (especially the male students), skipped meals frequently and weren't getting enough fiber. The researchers noted that all the students surveyed were at OSU where healthy options are available in dining halls. If that information is reliable, it's no surprise that some campuses remain "food deserts"; the student demand for healthier food simply may not be compelling enough.

One step you might take is to talk to the dietician in charge of the dining halls at your school. A registered dietician (R.D.) should be able to advise you on how to structure a healthy diet from local sources. You can also ask someone on the dining hall staff how particular menu items are prepared in order to avoid those that are high in fat, for example.

If there is a natural foods store nearby (Trader Joe's is a good option), you can check out the variety of meals in a cup and look for other instant meals that are easy to prepare. Be sure to read the ingredient lists and nutrition information on labels carefully.

You also could keep an eye out for fellow students with good eating habits and get their ideas. Joining forces with them could lead to an organized effort to expand healthy dining hall options.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here