Over the years, many students have found themselves facing the effects of “Freshmen 15,” the added weight that piles on without warning once dorm life begins. Faced with the struggle to juggle study habits, class schedules, extracurricular activities, and a fast food centered social life, healthy eating and nutrition fall by the way side. Yet nutrition is at the very center of every person’s wellbeing. It affects how well we think, how good we feel, and our overall capacity to work. So here are a few tips that you should keep in mind to help optimize your eating habits.
- Spread out your meals. Don’t skip meals because of classes or a tight study schedule. Give your body the energy when it needs throughout the day rather than trying to cram it all into one meal. If you have a tight schedule, pack your meal.
- Remove unhealthy temptations. Stock your dorm with healthy options. The best way to avoid eating junk food is not buying it in the first place.
- Be careful of what you drink. A lot of drinks, even those that are advertised as healthy (Gatorade, fruit juices, iced green teas) actually have a lot of added sugars. Energy drinks (Five Star, Red Bull, Monster) are even worse as they contain abnormally large amounts of caffeine, sugars, and other chemicals and are not FDA approved. When you get thirsty, stick to water.
- When studying, avoid large meals. Pick foods rich in protein and simple sugars. Meals rich in protein will keep your blood sugar levels relatively stable and tend to satisfy hunger better than carbohydrate rich meals.
- Cover all the food groups.
- Fruits and vegetables should make up 50% of your daily food consumption. Fruits or cut vegetables combined with dairy or nut butters (like peanut butter) can also be great study snacks to keep your energy up.
- Grains—Try to get make at least 50% of the grains you consume be whole grain. Whole grains are less processed and have more fiber which helps maintain digestive health.
- Examples: brown rice, whole grain flour, oatmeal
- Protein—When choosing your protein source, also consider the amount of fat and added sodium—choose lean or low-fat meat/poultry
- meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds
- Dairy—pick the reduced fat or low fat option (ex. Low-fat cheese, 1% or skim milk)
- vegetables, fruit, whole grains, dairy products, or lean meat, poultry, or fish
Check out www.choosemyplate.gov for more details about constructing a healthy diet.