As college students, we run the risk of unhealthy eating habits for various reasons. It can be for lack of funds, not knowing how to properly cook, or simply being unaware and misinformed. We see brands we’re familiar with at fair prices and stick with those products. Labels advertising “all natural” make these foods more enticing and convince us that we are making healthy choices. I hate to break it to you, but that isn’t really the case. “All natural” doesn’t mean “all good.”
There are more mouths to feed than there were 50 years ago. As a result, production practices have changed to keep up with the growing population. Pesticides and chemicals are added to foods to preserve freshness and prevent insects from damaging crops. These practices are intended to maintain our food supply, but do not always have the best effects. These chemicals tamper with the health and safety of our produce, and do more harm than good.
If you’re buying food for yourself, you need to know what the factory four are. The factory four—soy, corn, sugar, and vegetable oil—are the most highly processed and unhealthy ingredients that can be added into food products. These factory four are synonymous to canola oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sucralose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, and soy lecithin. In other words, the factory four are bad for you. Corn, really? I know. But corn is one of the most highly produced GMO crops. GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are living things whose genetic material is artificially manipulated in a lab. GMO crops (GMOs) are generally used in food production to increase crop yields and lower production costs. What’s so bad about more food for a lower price? Cultivating GMOs increases the use of herbicides which leads to the harm of birds, insects, and other organisms found in our soil. On a scarier note, GMOs can leave material behind within our bodies that can lead to long-term problems like infertility, organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, as well as accelerated aging.
Many companies use long, scientific sounding names that most people have never heard of to disguise these four components on their labels. This tactic leads buyers believing they are choosing healthy foods when that really isn’t the case. Our food should be natural. Companies shouldn’t be advertising that their product is made without chemicals. We get sucked in with these phrases that make it seem as if they are using quality ingredients, but they are just as bad as the brands who don’t advertise this way.
It’s a shame that what is affordable for college students is usually produced with a bunch of unhealthy ingredients. It’s not easy to cut out all of the non-organic food in your diet or only buy your produce from farmers markets. Sometimes it’s financially not an option. GMOs are cheaper than organic products but can adversely affect your health in the long run.
Try to buy products that are labeled “non-GMO verified” if you can’t commit to organic. You can save a little bit of money and still go organic by buying frozen organic fruits and veggies. These foods are good for you and they’ll last longer than regular produce. When cooking your own meals, try to swap out sugar for stevia, honey, molasses, and coconut palm sugar. For vegetable oil some healthy alternatives are olive oil and grapeseed oil. Try to check out some deals from your local markets, as some will offer student discounts or a percentage off on certain days of the week. Don’t forget about coupons!
Being a college student shouldn’t mean eating easy mac and ramen noodles every night. If these tips aren’t enough, just reading nutrition labels and staying away from products with these ingredients is still beneficial. Leave a comment or tweet @SOCIETY19 to let us know your tips and tricks for eating healthy!