Healthy Eating

News and views from Food Services’ Registered Dietitian Ruth Sullivan

Healthy Eating Tips for Busy Students

The average college student is often pressed for time, under a lot of stress, and eating on the go. You may find it difficult to avoid bad habits like skipping meals or frequently visiting fast-food restaurants. Eating a healthy diet can help you feel better, cope with stress and perform better in the classroom and/or on the athletic field.

Eat a good breakfast. Studies show that skipping breakfast detracts from scholastic achievement. When there isn’t time to sit down and enjoy your morning meal, try grabbing something quick like:

  • a bagel
  • a piece of fruit
  • yogurt

Most of these items can be easily stored in your residence hall room.

If you must eat fast foods, choose wisely.

Choose:

  • pizza with half the cheese
  • a regular size roast beef sandwich instead of an oversized sandwich
  • baked potato
  • green salad with reduced calorie dressing

Limit high-fat offerings like:

  • French fries
  • fried chicken
  • fish sandwiches

Keep healthy snacks on hand. This way, if hunger strikes during a late-night study session, you won’t be tempted by vending machine candy, chips, or ice cream. Suggestions:

  • fresh or dried fruit
  • pretzels
  • unbuttered popcorn
  • rice cakes
  • whole-wheat crackers

If you have a refrigerator, consider raw vegetables with low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese dip.

Eat plenty of foods rich in calcium. People in their early twenties need to build up stores of calcium in their bodies to prevent osteoporosis later in life. If you don’t like milk, try to include ample amounts of low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese, and green leafy vegetables in your diet.

Weight loss should be managed in consultation with your doctor. Starvation and/or diets that offer a quick fix usually backfire and are harmful. There is no truth to the theories that suggest eating foods in any particular combination will promote weight loss. The only safe way to lose weight, feel good while doing it, and keep it off, is to eat a balanced diet and exercise.

Limit your sugar intake.  Sugar provides calories in your diet but few other nutrients, and it contributes significantly to tooth decay. Use it sparingly and consider sweetening coffee, tea, cereal, and fruit with diet sweeteners instead.

Visit the dining center salad bar. The dining center salad bar can be either an asset or a detriment to your diet depending on how you choose from it. Of course, leafy greens, raw vegetables, and fresh fruits are beneficial. But if you choose a lot of creamy dressings, bacon bits, and mayonnaise-based salads, the calories and fat may equal or even exceed those of a burger and fries.

Limit your alcohol intake. If you drink alcohol, keep in mind that it supplies calories but no nutritional value. A light beer, a glass of wine, or an ounce of liquor each has about 100 calories.

Drink lots of water. Your body needs at least eight glasses a day, and, if you exercise vigorously, you may need more. To remind yourself, carry a water bottle to class and keep it handy during late-night study sessions.

Enjoy your food. Food is a lot more than nourishment for our bodies, so take the time to enjoy and savor it!