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Why Having Roommates May Help You Eat Healthier

Although New York City Ballet dancer Emilie Gerrity is eating her breakfast alone, she's proactive about making healthy choices. Could her fluffy roommate be holding her accountable? Photo by Jim Lafferty for Pointe.

It's 9 pm, and you're just getting home from rehearsal. Exhausted, you grab a meal from the freezer. You know it's not the healthiest choice, but hey, it's quick. In just three minutes, dinner will be served.

It's an easy trap to fall into, especially if you live alone. That's the focus of a recent paper published in the journal Nutrition Reviews. Researchers in Australia analyzed 41 existing studies to examine any links between one's nutrition and living solo. The findings pointed to more than one negative correlation: Those who live by themselves tend to eat a less diverse selection of foods overall, and they had a lower consumption of certain types of foods, such as fruits, vegetables and fish.

What's behind the dented diets? Researchers pinpointed several reasons. When you eat by yourself, you may be more likely to prepare something simple (therefore passing up key nutrients you need as a dancer) and you're also less likely to consider portion control. The rising cost of groceries, especially in urban dance hubs, often prompts shoppers to opt for cheaper, less nutrient-dense foods over expensive, but healthier, items like fish and fresh produce.

Even if you don't live alone, you may still fall prey to this trap when eating by yourself. So what's a dancer to do? For starters, check out "The Cost of Fuel," which outlines practical shopping tips for dancers on a budget—everything from where to shop to what to buy, and how to save and when to splurge. If you do have roommates or live with family, try to make shared mealtime a priority as often as you can. In this case, a little peer pressure can't hurt, since you're more likely to make healthier choices when others are around. If you're on your own, invite a friend over to try out some new recipes. Bon appetite!


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