After a long day at work and countless hours hearing a professor babble on in a lecture, the enticing smell of the nearest fast food joint isn’t just inviting, it’s drool-inducing. While most would likely consider it a one-time thing, for most Americans, particularly college students, it is becoming all too common.
To break the habit of eating out, students must realize the negative effects it has on diets and budgets.
Being in college is a time when money can be extremely tight and students need to be smart about finances. Nearly half of all millenials are living paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2017 survey from Go Banking Rates, a personal finance site.
Students have a lot of expenses but one of the most common comes from eating out. It is estimated college students eat an average of five takeout meals a week, according to a 2017 survey from Bankrate, which helps with finances. It is okay to eat fast food, but only in moderation.
The biggest reason for this phenomenon is due to fast food being much more convenient than taking the time every morning to prepare meals. A busy day warrants a quick meal. However, just because it’s more convenient doesn’t mean that it’s the healthiest option.
Young people also don’t tend to think of the long-term damage that fast food is doing to their bodies. Eating too much saturated and trans fats will cause the body to have higher levels of cholesterol, making it easier for people to gain unhealthy weight and put them at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. Yet the convenience is too tempting for most people to ignore.
Most people don’t take the time to count calories or look into the fat content of their meals when they eat out. As a result, people consume much more fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar than they need, and as a result, fewer vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. A significant intake of fast food may lead to obesity and severely shorten someone’s life span, so maybe think twice before buying that Big Mac.
The biggest way to solve this problem is by making a journal and preparing meals for the following day or week. After those 30 or 40 minutes, it’ll be easy to eat those meals steadily throughout the rest of the entire day or week without the worry of having to cook something after a long night.
People who spent a greater amount of time on home-food preparation had a more balanced diet of vegetables, salads, fruits and fruit juices, according to a study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Even though it may seem like a bit much, the act of meal prepping is completely doable and cost effective.
“I will spend $40 to $60 a week versus eating out, that could easily be $40 to $60 within two days,” said CSUF certified personal trainer Kristiana Dalfio.
Long-term health and financial consequences of always eating out should be enough to make the change. Even if college students are healthy at the moment, down the road things may change and bad health habits could create significant health issues.
If students can learn time-management and smart decision-making skills, they’ll see benefits beyond their wallets.