Healthy Eating Tips for College Students
- Never skip breakfast. Eating breakfast improves your mood and energy level for the day. It also improves your memory, concentration, and problem solving skills. Contrary to popular belief eating breakfast does not lead to weight gain; instead it prevents overeating at lunch and dinner times.
- Drink caffeine in moderation. Too much caffeine can increase heart rate, cause irritability, restlessness, headaches, difficulty sleeping and anxiety. A reasonable amount of caffeine for a day is 300 mg, which is equivalent to two cups of coffee.
- Eat snacks and meals every three to five hours. This will prevent overeating and eating unhealthy foods. Meal and snack times must be a priority to avoid grazing throughout the day. Grazing does not satisfy hunger and will make you overly hungry by the end of the day and lead to overeating and craving unhealthy foods.
- Balance your food choices over time. If you miss a food group one day, make up for it the next day. If you eat a portion of a food high in fat, salt or sugar at a meal, compliment it with some sides that are low in these. Not every food has to be perfect, aim for balancing food intake over several days.
- Do not drink your calories. Alcoholic drinks, coffee drinks, smoothies and juices are high in calories and can lead to weight gain. Consuming these drinks occasionally and in moderate amounts is the key to prevent adding pounds.
- Engage in 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Exercise helps to reduce stress, maintain weight, sleep better, and boost energy level.
- Drink eight to 10 cups of water daily. Adequate water consumption prevents water retention and constipation. It also helps to improve muscle tone and aids in losing weight.
Healthy Eating in the Dining Hall
- Choose baked or grilled entrees instead of fried items.
- Eat more lean meat such as turkey, chicken, fish and less red meat such as beef, veal, and pork.
- Select plain steamed vegetables instead of french fries or battered vegetables.
- Choose fruit and yogurt for dessert instead of cakes and cookies.
- Request sauces or gravies on the side and use them sparingly.
- Choose broth or tomato based soups instead of cream soups.
- Select mustard, hummus or vinaigrette in your sandwiches instead of oil and mayonnaise.
- Fill 75% of your plate with fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains and 25% with meat and dairy.
- Choose skim milk and low fat yogurt instead of whole milk and regular yogurt.
- Practice portion control by not going for seconds and stop eating when you are not hungry anymore.
Healthy Ideas for a Quick Breakfast
- Bagel with 1 Tbsp lite cream cheese or peanut butter
- 1 oz. cereal with skim milk and a banana
- English muffin, 1 oz. melted mozzarella cheese or 1/2 cup cottage cheese, small orange juice
- Hard boiled egg, toast and applesauce
- Instant oatmeal, 8 oz. skim milk, small box of raisins
- Cereal bar and 8 oz. milk
- Low-fat yogurt and apple
- American Dietetic Association
- Calculate Your Body Mass Index
- Choose My Plate
- Nutrition Facts Label (Food Labeling)
- Nutrition Information For You (Nutrition.gov)
- Other Nutrition Links
- Portion Distortion
- Food Addicts in recovery anonymous*
*Consultations with a registered dietician at the Wellness Center are available to discuss a variety of nutrition-related health concerns, including weight loss/gain, special dietary needs, healthy eating, and more. To schedule an appointment please call Dial-A-Nurse at 773-508-8883
Also recommended: The College Student's Guide to Eating Well on Campus by Ann Selkowitz Litt, M.S., R.D., L.D.