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Stressed students determined to buy healthy foods

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BELLEVILLE (11/16/14) – Students at Loyalist College say they feel the pre-Christmas crunch at school. They say buying their food at school is more convenient. However, regardless of convenience, students are still going out of their way to buy healthier food from grocery stores. Photo by Greg Murphy.

By Greg Murphy [2]

BELLEVILLE – Loyalist College students try to eat healthier even when facing end of term stress, a QNetNews survey found.

This is contrary to a national American study saying the opposite is true.

Stress levels rise at Loyalist College at this time of year as students scramble to get their work done. With so much time devoted to classes and homework, eating well can take a back seat. But, at the cost of convenience, some students are still making the push to buy healthier foods from grocery stores off campus.

QNet News interviewed 12 students from different programs to find out where they buy their food and why during the hurly-burly pre-Christmas study grind. Most students said they buy food from the cafeteria for reasons of convenience during high stress periods. But all but one said they try to focus their food budgets on local grocery stores, citing reasons such as the availability of healthier food options and saving money.

A study written by Huntington University [3] students, Brittany Gower, Christina E. Hand and Zachariah K. Crooks called  The Relationship Between Stress and Eating in College Age Students [4], found there’s a clear relationship between school-related stress and eating behaviour in students. Gower, Hand, and Crooks wrote that people under stress are more inclined to eat junkier foods. They also wrote that nutritional needs change during times of high stress, and in order to cope, students should be supplementing their bodies with the necessary nutrients.

Lindsay Dunlop is a first year practical nursing student who lives off campus. She said she buys from the cafeteria often but will always try to buy her groceries in town.

“It’s more convenient to buy food here because when you go home you don’t have to make anything, you have it with you. Having said that, I’ll still try to shop at Walmart or the Independent because they have healthier options,” said Dunlop.

A typical grocery basket from Walmart will cost Dunlop between $60 and $100 a week. She also said she gets more for her dollar at the grocery store than what she buys at the college.

Ashley West, also a nursing student, said she likes to buy her meals from Subway, Tim Horton’s, and Miso Soup in the cafeteria. West said its easy to duck in and out of the cafeteria between classes because time is so short in her day and that she finds the price of food at Loyalist to be “fairly reasonable”.

“If you think about the noodles at Miso and factor in all the ingredients used to make it, it would probably cost pretty closely to the same as if you bought them at a grocery store,” she said.

West also buys groceries at FreshCo.

“I live off campus so I need groceries to eat when I’m not here. It’s a good thing because it prompts me to eat healthier, I guess,” said West.

First year chemical engineering student Dan Naum was the only student we interviewed who said he doesn’t normally grocery shop.

Naum said he normally buys poutine from Smoke’s Poutine on North Front Street, and food from Pizza Pizza, Tim Horton’s and Subway here at the college.

Convenience is important to Naum who said he doesn’t have time to shop for groceries.

“I’ll spend $100 easy on food every week. Yeah, it’s expensive, but I need the convenience,” he said.

The Loyalist College school nurse, Lauren Deans, said eating well is important for coping with stress.

“For the price that you pay for a pizza, you can buy a steak, a baked potato and green beans, and still have money left over,” said Deans.

Planning meals is also important, she said.

“On Tuesday, the bus goes to No Frills. Bring your grocery list and stick with it. When you get back you’ll have your meals for the week. That’s the best and least expensive thing you can do.”