For college students, maintaining a healthy mind and body is critical. Proper nutrition gives you energy to study, stay alert in class, and spend time participating in extracurricular activities and with friends. Here are general tips on how to eat healthy as a college student:
Eating a variety of foods in proper portions from the major food groups will allow you to meet your daily nutrition requirements. The basic food groups include fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers the MyPlate nutrition guide for the public. MyPlate illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet using a meal place setting. College offers a good opportunity to focus on eating healthy. Choose the healthier foods in the cafeteria and shop wisely for groceries.
Even when out at fast food restaurants, you can still find healthier menu items. “Always go with a meat option that is grilled, not fried and order something that has a lot of vegetables,” recommends Jessica Baumgardner, director of housing at South University, Savannah. “A healthy meal at McDonald’s could be a grilled chicken fillet with no bun, a side salad, and a fruit and yogurt parfait.”
Every system in the human body depends on water. Water flushes toxins out, carries nutrients throughout the body, and provides moisture for body tissues. You must replenish your body’s water supply by consuming the proper amount of water from beverages and food. Common advice has been to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. However, the USDA recommends different amounts of water based on age, sex, and health status. Fluid intake also needs to be modified according to exercise and the climate you are in.
Generally, it is recommended to drink enough fluid to rarely feel thirsty, and it’s a good idea to drink water with and between meals and before, during, and after exercise.
Convenient does not have to be unhealthy. You can satisfy your craving for snacks by choosing single servings and being careful not to eat foods with too much sugar and salt. Many food companies have created 100-calorie snack packs — from cookies and pretzels to granola and candy bars — that provide automatic portion control. Those who want healthy, low-calorie snacks, but also want to save money and reduce waste, can opt to prepare and portion out snacks themselves.
“Preparing snacks for the day in the morning is a great way to make sure you eat healthy throughout the day,” Baumgardner says. “Some snack suggestions are apples, bananas, nuts, raisins, yogurt, and protein bars.”