The price of eating well

| Staff Columnist

When I came to Washington University, I promised myself I’d try to be healthier. Walk everywhere. Go to the gym. Eat better. The usual stuff. Of course, once I realized that the walk to the art school while trying to manage an unwieldy portfolio was next to impossible at 7:30 in the morning, I started taking Campus Circ. And while I walk by the fitness center on a daily basis, I have yet to actually make it inside.

The one thing I really made an attempt to do was to eat healthily. And I did, avoiding pizza and half-and-halfs in favor of sandwiches on whole wheat and salads from the salad bar. But of course, you have to give in sometime—just last week I caved during my lunch run and bought a burger and fries. Carrying it to the cash register, I expected it to be a little more expensive than my usual, because it was a burger and fries, after all. Imagine my surprise when it rang up to nearly a full point less than my normal Paws & Go salad.

Here at Wash. U., healthy living is promoted all over the place. The gym runs free trial classes for students. Bear Bikes rents out bicycles to students who want to get some extra exercise in on their way to and from class. I dare you to go on a quick walk to main campus at any time of day and not find at least one person out on a run. You would think that eating well would factor into the equation somewhere. Without a healthy diet, all that exercising won’t do you much good. You may lose a few pounds, but actually being healthy is about more than that.

The worst part of this seems to be that the higher pricing is restricted solely to the South-40 eateries. Students entering college hear horror stories about the freshman 15, and many will try as hard as they can to subvert the 15 pounds they’ll supposedly put on before the end of the year. And while options such as the DUC dining facilities or the Village Café might offer cheaper options for healthier food, when your stomach is rumbling on the way back to your dorm, it’s just that much easier to swing through Bear’s Den than it is to walk back across campus.

Everyday, WebSTAC shows a suggested amount of meal points to have on your card, and more often than not, the actual amount is far below the suggested number. It’s funny, because everyone tells you to purchase the smallest meal plan possible. Maybe that should be amended to “purchase the smaller meal plan if you aren’t planning on eating a salad this semester.”

While I’ve managed to get my meal points back under control through some careful crafting, I don’t want to have to think about my meal points every time I consider passing over the fries in favor of greens. I’m relieved to know that, should my meal plan run out, my parents would gladly put some extra money on my Bear Bucks account, but I’m lucky. For many students it is: “If you eat through your meal plan, you aren’t getting any more.”

Maybe I could go exercise so that I can have that delicious greasy meal (after all, joining the fitness center here is far less expensive than joining a gym almost anywhere else off campus), but I’m already spending hours holed up in a studio or my room working hard. The least I could hope for would be a not-too-expensive, quick and healthy fix on one of my short breaks.

Or maybe that’s too much to ask for.

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