When we set out to conduct a survey of where students prefer to eat at the SUB, we were expecting a few things. Among them, we expected students to be conscious of the amount of money they spend — which they are. But they are also worried about the quality and health benefits of their food. Unfortunately, the common perception on campus is that healthy equals expensive in the SUB.
“At this point, [health] value trumps cost,” said Aline Bennett, a graduate student. “But if I was an undergrad it would probably be the other way around.”
“I really like The Delly because their sandwiches are really good. Other food options here seem to be too processed or not too fresh,” added third-year engineering student Coby Yu. “For me, it’s not about the cost, it’s about the health benefits.”
The idea that the healthiness of a given diet has an inverse relationship with its cost is not necessarily true, according to Vashti Verbowski, a certified dietitian and master’s student in UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems.
Eating a balanced diet may be tricky, but cost doesn’t have to be an issue. “You can eat healthfully and inexpensively at the same time,” said Verbowski.
For instance, she suggested getting sushi and a piece of fruit from the Delly, or ordering a burger with salad instead of fries. “It could still be the same price, but you’re making a healthier choice at the end of the day,” she said.
Another pointer was bringing your own food from home, but let’s face it — who has time for that during finals? So if you’re stuck eating at the SUB, here are some of the healthiest options, according to Verbowski:
The Delly: They make fresh sandwiches and you can choose the type of bread and the amount of veggies and toppings. Subway could also be a good choice, as long as you don’t order a foot-long sub.
The Gallery: “I was surprised by their menu,” said Verbowski. “You can choose less healthy things there too, but they have the option to do a half order of sandwich with a salad.”
In the Cup: “They serve kimchi there; [it is] a natural source of probiotics, and it’s a vegetable,” said Verbowski.
Sprouts: You can eat local and organic produce from UBC Farm — that is, if you don’t mind waiting in long lineups on Fridays.
Some students are making the healthy (or cheap) choice of eating at the Delly; it was named the most affordable option and it tied for the number one choice in frequency of visits. But the other most popular destination, Blue Chip Cookie, also happens to be the least healthy option in the SUB.
“You’re probably getting enough calories in a cookie for a meal, but there are very little nutrients in that,” explained Verbowski. “I personally love Blue Chip Cookie, but I don’t recommend having one of those every day — only as a special treat, maybe after an exam or something like that.”
Other food items on the least healthy list: anything that’s deep fried or battered, drinks from the vending machine and sugary drinks from Starbucks.
Next time you’re thinking of getting a caramel macchiato with extra whipped cream and chocolate sauce, remember that a healthy and balanced diet sustains your energy levels, keeps your immune system strong and prevents digestive issues.
“I think in the SUB it can be challenging to find healthy food, but those choices are there,” said Verbowski. “It is in the hands of the consumer to make those choices.”