Human personality is shaped as a result of one’s experiences in life. Living away from family for some period of time is a learning experience for many students as it leaves some long-lasting experiences during their hostel lives.
Equipped with this new lifestyle, a student supposedly becomes competent enough to live independently and picks up some important lessons along the way on how to compromise with other students and roommates in order to facilitate a harmonious and conflict-ridden environment.
It is common knowledge about students facing many difficulties and crises during their stay in hostels like financial crunches, adjusting with others, self-helplessness, distress, alterations in one’s eating and sleep routine, cleanliness, lack of healthy food and countless other issues.
However, the one issue that tops everything else on the list is the quality and availability of food. Or in other words, it is the availability of healthy food that becomes a source of worry to many a hostel student.
Hostels are usually located far away from the city/town areas and hence the availability of alternate food other than hostel food becomes a major issue.
Hence, the question is how anyone gets to eat what is served on their plate, sans any questions asked.
Despite the never-ending issues of a hostel life, several kinds of research conducted on hostel lives show that the humane qualities of empathy together with altruistic behaviour and emotional stability are more seen in hostel students as also the environment gives more opportunities to socialize among fellow students than in any other educational or social setting.
What Are Food Issues One Has To Face While Living In A Hostel?
Food-reated issues can be depressing to many a college student at first especially when he/she is new to the environment, hands down.
Here are some challenges and the possible solutions that a student can have while facing food constraints in their hostels:
As one can even manage the first few months spent away from home without any craving for home-cooked food.
Nonetheless, this cannot go on forever as eating food from the college cafeteria and restaurants twice or thrice every day starts to become frustrating and eventually students crave for home-cooked food no matter what it is.
The unavailability of home-cooked food and the inability to have it in a hostel will lead one to a bad mood in the end. What entails, as a result, is homesickness that deteriorates the academic performance of a student.
In this atypical scenario, the realistic solution one can seek is to befriend day scholars who can offer home-cooked food once or more a week.
Though hostel mess food is not such a mess as it is believed to be, it can still make a world of difference to someone who is habituated to eat homely and hygienic food in his life.
Even if the mess menu is balanced and thorough, it still makes for a severe contrast compared to the quality of home food and in turn, can even aggravate and add to the stress that results in due to the shift in one’s living environment from home to a hostel.
It is also another dire state of affairs to deal with when food theft is one of the things that happens sometimes in a hostel.
Particularly, if one shares a communal fridge with several people having various ethics then there are chances that someone might believe they can own for themselves to anything in there.
Vegetarians too face a lot of trouble sharing their meals or even sitting next to someone who eats mostly non-vegetarian food. Some may even have to settle for non-veg food if they don’t get to eat vegetarian food in their hostel premises or surrounding areas.
Ultimately, the issues with regard to hostel food can get resolved when the people’s point of view who eat in a private mess is taken into account on the grounds like if they are satisfied with food quality, items, quality of service, value for money, and cleanliness along with sound hygiene practices being in place.
What Points To Be Mindful Of During One’s Stay In A Hostel?
It is not unusual to find hostel inmates grumbling or even protesting about the grave quality of food served in their hotel mess. The reason for this is that food in most hostels is supplied by private contractors who are singled out on the basis of the lowest charges rather than food quality.
In some places, it is observed that the contractors do not have an FSSAI license or registration. These food contractors have no knowledge of either food safety or the best quality practices and continue to put at risk the health of young students and office going youngsters who are staying in youth hostels or in bachelor accommodations.
All stakeholders must be wholly aware of food safety and nutrition so that hostel inmates get quality, nutritious and safe food.
Without having a proper knowledge of food safety guidelines, it can be very tough to prepare and manage food for bulk consumption in a safe manner.
Lack of realization regarding wrong food preparation or poor hygiene practices could easily spoil the food, thus adversely affecting the health of countless hostel inmates.
One must inquire whether the right food safety practices are followed in a hostel or no by looking at some of the food safety requirements that are easily overlooked in hostels like the following:
- Insufficient kitchen amenities
- Awful sanitation conditions in kitchens and storage spaces
- Untidy kitchen utensils
- Improper and crude waste disposals
What To Choose Over What?
One must also thoroughly check the measures taken by the hostel in-charge or superintendent to maintain food safety in hostel canteens and kitchens like employing only the personnel like:
- Licensed or registered food operators on contract,
- Only qualified personnel who are well aware of personal and community hygiene,
- Food handlers who are medically certified infection-free from any contagious diseases,
- Testing all the raw as well as cooked food samples in a certified food testing laboratory.
Above all food does not signify only eatable stuff but drinking water above all is more of a prime safety concern than the safety of all the food items put together in a foreign place like hostels for a student.
There are more illnesses which can be easily spread through impure water than unhygienic food and the effects cum consequences of drinking bad water will tell immediately on one’s health.
Students wishing to join a hostel must ensure that that the overhead tanks which supply water to the hostel kitchen for drinking and cooking purposes are routinely tested and also see to it that the hostel management takes prompt action as part of their safety measures in case if the water analysis report tests show any traces of chemical or microbial impurities.
When it comes to food, one cannot settle for less on its safety and see if there’s a possibility of choosing safe food or a safer hostel that provides safe and hygienic food.
What To Eat Healthy In A Hostel WIth Smart Food Choices?
Maintaining a balanced diet becomes seemingly impossible when one has to leave the comfort of their homes to a hostel. It is best that one knows about the top food hacks that will help them stay healthy without losing much on their pocket money or their limited student budget.
It is all about knowing some smart food hacks that makes it easy for anyone to maintain a healthy diet while enjoying their stay in a hostel. Here are some hacks that one can preplan to maintain a healthy diet:
Eat Smart With The Mess Food
While sitting at a hostel mess to eat, one can turn the tables in their favour by eating the best food from the few options available on the table and leaving the rest to others.
For instance, one can either choose dal (lentils) or wheat roti over the not so healthy and oily curry or gravy food items. One can obtain some protein and enough carbs that can keep them going well through the day by smartly choosing the right food over rice and curry.
All For Oats And Cornflakes
A complex source of carbohydrate like oats will be of an immense blessing for one in their hostel life. They are a quick meal too, as they come with a no-cooking benefit. One can pour boiling hot water or milk and oats/corn flakes are ready to eat.
Be Protein Savvy
Fulfilling one’s daily protein intake is a major hurdle for hostilities and they can take the following steps to ensure they don’t miss out on their protein levels in their body:
- Eat 15 boiled eggs all through the day which can greatly boost the level of protein.
- Buy packet paneer and add to dals/curries making them rich in protein.
- Protein Supplements and powders work well as they have almost nothing to do with the cooking part that could kill the essential nutrients in one’s diet.
- Buy whey protein as it is safe and natural and irrespective of gender and activity level, anyone can consume it as it has no side effects. It particularly comes to rescue those students who are looking for weight loss or muscle gain through their workouts.
- Choose vitamins and minerals – Irrespective of the fitness goal, having salads are the best choice to have before one gets to begin their actual lunch or dinner as it will help in reducing a lot of fat. As an added benefit, salads bestow essential vitamins and minerals that will help keep the nutrients in one’s body to the desired degree.
Go For Healthy Fats And Snacks
Consuming healthy fats are never a problem with healthy fat sources like almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, flax seeds and so on.
One must keep these vital healthy fats handy with them and even go for recipes like homemade peanut butter or a banana peanut butter sandwich.
Likewise, healthy snack options made of almonds, peanuts, carrots, cucumbers, peanut butter, fruits, low-fat milk, low-fat curd, etc. will keep one full in the evening and late nights.
Don’t Skip Workouts
No matter how hard one may try their hand it is plain impossible to have an ideal diet while staying in a hostel.
So, if one cannot afford or feel they cannot fill their stomach with healthy foods like fruits and nuts then the only choice left for them to burn calories is by going through a daily workout regime. One can simply join a gym, play any sport, or go for running/walking/jogging/skipping/trekking activities that suit one’s fitness motives and interests.
Stay Hydrated And Sleep Well
It is important to stay hydrated enough in remote places like hostels when the chances to get drinking water are not easy. It’s better to make a habit of drinking at least 3 litres of water daily that will also help in releasing the toxins from one’s body.
Similarly, maintaining proper eating and sleep timings also help one to stay healthy even in adverse conditions, though it may not be possible for everyone to do so all the time.
Give Junk Food A Break
It is not a shocking fact anymore if one can see that the hostel food is no less harmful than junk food. So in order to avoid the double dose of harm on one’s health, it is best to avoid eating junk food as much as one can.
Have a No smoking, No Drinking Policy
Though the party has a lot to it, indulging in alcohol is one thing that conjoins one’s idea of having a party. And smoking too doesn’t make one look cool either. In all respects, it is better to avoid them during hostels and not go for it even on a party or picnic or college fest like occasions.
Everything boils down to one thing for a person living in a hostel, that is making smart food choices. And the more one learns about eating smart the wiser they become in staying healthy.