For many years, it was commonly thought that college students and young adults who were just embarking on their own had bad eating habits; in part, this may be true, what with all the late night snack runs and a generally unsteady eating schedule. But with more people listening to the science coming out about healthy food, and with the added bonus of the availability of gyms at an affordable price for those just embarking on their own, these unhealthy trends appear to be on the decline.
As food trends change, universities are faced with the pressure to adapt their offerings to serve the food students will want to eat. The University of Calgary, as one example, provides options for all diets by providing a variation of meals for its students, while always maintaining separate stations for vegetarian and vegan students. The dining hall also now allows for takeaway food, and the dorm rooms have individual mini fridges and shared microwaves that allow students to take their uneaten food with them and eat at a later time.
Typically, obesity rates in Canada begin to rise around the age of 20, and these can continue to rise until the age of 65. I don’t believe this timing is any coincidence, given that the age of 20 is when many individuals step out on their own, whether that be moving out of their parents house or moving out of the residence hall. So, what happens when these young adults are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle while keeping costs down? I believe the answer is meal planning, a practice in which people plan, and often prepare, the bulk of their meals for the week ahead of time. This growing trend, which is most commonly employed to save time, may actually be reducing both our risk of obesity and our rates of food waste. It is estimated that food waste costs the Canadian economy $31 billion dollars every year. But when people take the time to plan out exactly how much they are going to eat each day, and then only buy the necessary ingredients, the rate of wasted food declines dramatically.
With the healthy eating revolution upon us, information is key, and now it is more accessible than ever. A 2016 search data survey discovered that internet searches for healthy foods had grown 10 times since 2005. The ease of finding healthy information is celebrated at such events as FitExpo, which brings togethers gyms, dieticians, and healthy restaurants from around the city, giving individuals the opportunity to ask all their questions in one place. There are also many seminars that can aid people in learning to properly meal plan for their lifestyle and their needs. (A quick google search will open up similar opportunities in your city.) By continuing this healthy eating trend we could be on track to be one of the healthiest generations in years, with obesity rates already dropping. Should this movement continue it could add years to our lives, money in our bank accounts, and sustainability to our world.