Eating Nutritiously and College Stress

Reviewing how stress affects food and how food affects stress

Food is a necessity that every human requires to live. However, college students are proven to eat less and skip out on daily meals. A main cause of skipping meals and having large snacks is stress. According to the article “Impact of Stress Levels on Eating Behaviors among College Students,” 393 students at a Korean university answered a survey about physical activity and dietary habits. The responses were then put on the Perceived Stress Scale.
“Students with high perceived stress levels exhibited increased unhealthy dietary behaviors such as ready-prepared meal consumption” according to the article.
Ready-prepared meals are available at stores for low prices. Such meals are sold at UW-Platteville. At Greenwood Avenue Market, easy microwaveable meals are available for students and staff to purchase. Everyone has a different eating recommendation, but research suggests that this should not be the go-to meal all of the time. Time in between classes is available for students to relax, eat and not stress about work. Fortunately, most universities have counseling services to help students cope with the stress of college work and big changes in their lives. Having a healthy diet reduces the stress that a student experiences as well as their overall quality of life.
“Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body,” said Matthew J. Kuchan, Ph.D. a senior research scientist at Abbott.
In a poll done by Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 14% of voters answered that they coped with stress by eating healthy.
One of the counselors at University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Mandi Wood, said about stress and eating patterns: “Stress impacts eating habits in various ways. One way that this happens is that people release stress hormones that increase hunger for sugary and fatty foods. Other people experience stress-induced physical symptoms that include stomach ache and other digestive issues, and this can decrease hunger and food intake because of negative digestive issues.”
Furthermore, transitioning into a situation where one must decide for themselves when and what to eat for the first time causes significant stress. In the fall of 2021, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is offering a new dining plan for students. The flexibility of this new plan is very exciting to the Registered Dietician, Stephanie Young.
“The new program still has multiple meal plan options. The main difference is that students have only dining dollars on their campus card with a depreciating balance. The remaining balance of the card will be all dining dollars and that will be spent on individual items.”
The balance will go down every time an item is purchased. She continues to explain the process of the meal plan: “each item will be purchased individually, like an a la carte. Multiple prices will be listed for those who do not have meal plans such as faculty and staff. The buying power will be increased at Bridgeway Stations for students, such as a 50% discount.”
This new meal plan will provide more flexibility for students on what they want to eat. Students will have many different options to put together one whole meal plan. It will also cause less stress for the kitchen. There will be more new items offered on the menu giving students, faculty and staff a variety of different food.
Based on the survey that was given to a university in Korea, 47% of recipients said that they ate when they felt stressed. Big snacks outside of mealtimes are not the best for the human body. Ultimately, it is up to the individual student to make those healthy eating decisions on an everyday basis. Talking with a nutritionist and a counselor here on campus will lead to knowing how to cope with stress in consuming food. The number for Counseling Services at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is 608-342-1865. To make an appointment with the Registered Dietician, Stephanie Young, email [email protected] or call 608-342-7334.