by Ranjie Nocete | February 5, 2023
When face-to-face classes began, eating out also followed. As a busy student, convenience and expense are top factors when deciding what to get to satisfy our hungry, stressed, and developing bodies.
As Sillimanians, what food options do we have readily available? What options do we have that fit our student budget? Unfortunately, most of them are not very healthy. Students consume a vast variety of processed foods every day: fried chicken, pork, milk tea, burgers, waffles, sisig, french fries, and many more.
Is it wrong to eat these foods every now and then? Of course not! The problem arises when this becomes one’s everyday diet.
Many students are young, ranging from ages 10 to 19. During this stage of life, several changes are happening to one’s body in preparation for adulthood – physiological, sexual, neurological, and behavioral. With this rapid rate of growth, a balanced diet with lots of nutritional value is crucial for full growth potential.
We have been taught at an early age the food pyramid and healthy food plate. Humans need to eat lots of vegetables, fruits, healthy protein, and whole grains. Fats and sweets should only be eaten sparingly.
So, who’s to blame? Must we condemn students if they couldn’t be bothered to prepare their own meals? Or if they choose non-nutritious but convenient meals every day?
Or should we look at the businesses and food stalls surrounding Silliman and question if their limited menus have a major impact on what students eat every day?
I would say it is the latter. According to one of the most famous self-help books, Atomic Habits, your environment has a major impact on your daily actions and habits. This is because humans have limited willpower. With our environment being saturated with these unhealthy food options, can you really blame a student for buying a tempura and milk tea after a hard exam? After a tiring day, no one would have the willpower to reject delicious, affordable, and extremely accessible junk food.
In the end, we live in a capitalist society. Business owners know that there is a high demand for unhealthy and frustratingly delicious food. There must be a change in demand. A call for business owners to have plant-based or vegan options. Not just healthy options but affordable and accessible ones as well.
The truth is that there is a demand for healthier choices. One day, I ventured to KrossKat in search of a salad that I did not find. Instead, I was met by the smoke and smells of junk food. And even when I ventured farther in search of healthier food options, I was also met with another dilemma—they were so expensive. A substantial meal that can feel satiating is worth ₱200 or higher. I’m sure other students on their own health journey have experienced this difficulty as well.
Although challenging and seemingly impossible, students and business owners alike have the power to change the narrative and promote healthy eating and living for all.