"Using Ensure in a way that was not intended"

I was talking to someone the other day and she mentioned something about how college-aged people were “using ensure in a way that was not intended.” I was not in a position to ask exactly what she meant by that. What could a young person possibly use it for? And why would they use Ensure? Surely there would already be a product that fulfills this need that isn’t meant for geriatrics, right?

My daughter is a college student and she keeps Ensure in her fridge for days when she is too busy to eat. She has a lot of friends who do the same.

I’m not sure how this would be using it in a way that’s not intended… Unless they ‘intended’ Ensure to be used by elderly people who can’t eat enough calories to stay healthy and don’t like it to be used as a simple meal substitute for young people who could eat regular food but don’t?

I don’t mean to question you or your daughter, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that someone can’t find the time to eat a meal. Are you certain that this is the real explanation for this behavior?

You haven’t been to college in a while, I take it? Depending on how your schedule works out a particular semester, you may or may not have the hour to spare to walk to the cafeteria / your room, make a proper meal, eat it, clean up, and walk all the way back to class. Sometimes the dining services aren’t even open at the times you want them to be, depending on your college. Sometimes a shake / protein bar / bagel / whatever really is the most pragmatic solution, and if nothing else it’ll at least hold ya over till the next “real” meal.

It isn’t so much not having the time to physically eat, it’s running out of food in the fridge and then just not having time to get to the store or the cafeteria to acquire more food.

A stockpile of not-very-enticing but reasonably nutritious non-perishable items is the fallback strategy in this case. As a college professor, I still run into days like this from time to time, although I use peanut butter and canned soup as my nutrition of last resort rather than Ensure.

I’m a Ph.D. student, and I’m busier than pretty much anyone I know. Yet I find the time to smear peanut butter on a piece of bread and put it in my bag in the morning. Anyway, I don’t want to get into this conversation-- I’m really just curious about the Ensure. And why Ensure? There are a hundred other foods that a student could eat instead of that.

My son’s cafeteria is open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. I’m pretty sure he sleeps until noon, runs to class then has his first meal of the day at 1:00 or 2:00. That means he misses meals a lot and is always wanting extra food to keep in his room. I could definitely see students “using Ensure in a way that was not intended”, like for late night study sessions or maybe for hangovers.

[tongue in cheek]I’m not sure if anybody ever mixes it with half a shot of vodka, but that probably wasn’t the plan in the first place[/tic]

Crap, I thought it would be something lurid like having sex parties with it or something… :smack:

A couple of semesters ago, I had labs from 10 to noon and from noon to 2, and most of the on-campus lunch places stopped serving at 2. If I was lucky, the first lab would finish early enough that I’d have time for a real (though hurried) meal, but just as often, it was all I could do to run over to the student union and cram down a couple of slices of pizza and a Pepsi in the ten minutes between class. It probably would have been healthier for me to take Ensure or something similar on those days.

This semester, one of the other grad students has the same thing, only he also has one from 8 to 10 on the same day, so he doesn’t even have the advantage of a recent breakfast.

This implies that you have previously found the time to go to the store and get peanut butter and bread. That’s the step that IME college students frequently have trouble with.

Oh, I see. So your question isn’t so much “Why a snack/supplement instead of a proper meal?” but rather “Why Ensure over other snacks/supplements/meal replacements?”

I’d like to know, too, but WAG wouldn’t a meal replacement product (which Ensure seems to be) be better, nutritionally, than a PB sandwich? You get a controlled calorie amount not dependent on spreading thickness, added vitamins & minerals, similar or more fiber (the bread may not give you much unless it’s whole-grain), less fat (but more sugar), and more protein. And maybe a different taste every day if you so prefer. And less preparation time, less storage issues, less spoilage…

But still, that doesn’t answer the “Why Ensure?” and not Slimfast/PowerBar/EAS/whatever question. I’m… hungry… for the answer now.

How exactly did they get the Ensure, then?

One thing I’m not getting here: Ensure is disgusting. There may not be a more disgusting “food” in the world with the possible exception of caza marzu. I know this is General Questions, but we are dealing with empirical fact here. When I had a TMJ appliance my dentist recommended I drink it as a meal replacement. I stopped going to that dentist. When my mom was dying of cancer and could not eat solid foods her doctor recommended Ensure. I took it out of the fridge and started shaking it to get the oil all mixed up. From the other room I heard my mom shout, “NO!” It was the first word she’d said in over 24 hours.

I could go on.

But the point is, Ensure is farking disgusting. If it’s really true that American college students have to stoop to eating it because they “don’t have the time” to get anything else I am afraid there is little hope for this country.

I guess it is time to start selling Plumpy’nut to people not dying of malnutrition.


I think this is likely the starting point of the problem. People think it’s healthy in some way, it isn’t really, unless you have problems getting nutrition otherwise. A friend who is a dietitian hates the idea that people who aren’t in a hospital setting are using it.



They’re not really a good choice.

I agree. But you know, you can get food bars and vitamin water and get a much tastier, nearly as cheap and likely better for you meal.

Esp those Odwalla bars, yum.

And besides, smoothies are so much better than Ensure. Probably cheaper, too, even if you use fresh fruit.

They bought it at some earlier point when they were less strapped for time, and kept it in the fridge (as SkeptiJess noted) against the day when they ran out of other food.

They weren’t tempted to eat it before they ran out of other food because, as you pointed out, it’s gross.

I don’t like tomato soup, so I always keep a can of tomato soup in the back of the cupboard. I’ll never eat it as long as I have other stuff on hand to eat, and if I don’t have other stuff on hand to eat, I won’t go hungry, because even tomato soup is better than nothing.



Staples like bread get stale, and if you’re a single student, you probably won’t finish a loaf before it goes bad. Ensure, on the other hand, lasts forever, has vitamins, and I’m no foodie, but it doesn’t taste *that *bad either. If you get it very cold and shake it up, it’s like a milkshake.

Maybe they were developed with the frail, elderly people in mind, but now the commercials feature younger, fit, people (example), so why not Ensure?