Healthier Eating 101

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Alexandria Sese > Sophomore > English > University of Illinois at Chicago’s not surprising that some college students end up having cold pizza for breakfast, warm pizza for lunch and stale pizza for dinner. Aside from the lack of nutrition this common college eating lifestyle has, it doesn’t provide any sort of much-needed energy, but does provide added chances of getting illnesses and extra inches in your waist. According to Antonia Hartley RD, Clinical Nutrition Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, eating healthy in college isn’t anywhere as challenging as being awake for an 8 AM class without coffee. She shares a few issues that can help you figure out your best path to a healthier, more energized eating lifestyle.

1. You’re skipping more than just meals.

Hartley observes that the many students have the bad habit of skipping meals. Not only does skipping meals slow down your metabolism but it also makes nutrition absorption less efficient. Besides, if you don’t have any food in your body, you don’t have any nutrition to absorb in the first place. Hartley also points out that skipping meals is one of the causes of overeating in students.

2. Listen to your body.

“You lose touch with your hunger cues when you don’t eat when you’re hungry,” says Hartley who emphasizes the importance of listening to these cues. Losing these cues can cause a person to either skip more meals or overeat later on. “Sometimes you might not be hungry but just thirsty,” Hartley says. When you’re not in touch with your hunger cues, you might be taking in more calories than your body’s really asking for.

3. Hydrate.

Nothing beats water when it comes to keeping yourself hydrated. Chugging down H2O can also help you feel more alert and energized. If the taste of water doesn’t tickle your taste buds enough, Hartley suggests putting a splash of juice or some herbs in your water for some taste. Additionally, drinking water can help reduce your hangovers when you’re drinking.

4. Snack Smart.

Did you know that most packaged food items have more than one serving in them? Did you know that one sugar packet has 4 grams of sugar? When you reach for your next snack, look for foods that are high in fiber and protein, because these will keep your energy up for longer and will keep your sugar at a moderate level. These kinds of snacks will also leave you satisfied for longer. Opt for tasty options like an apple (high in fiber) and peanut butter (high in protein). If coffee is your go-to energy boost, keep in mind that there is such a thing as too much coffee. Aim for no more than 2 cups a day (1 cup being 8 oz.).

5. You got this!

When it comes to healthier eating options in general, Hartley believes that choosing healthier foods are not as difficult as it seems. “Students often overlook the safety nets around them when it comes to food,” Hartley says. Despite the rampant presence of fried greasy foods in campus dining halls, they often offer healthier foods that are just as convenient to reach for. Most students, Hartley feels, know what to do to make their eating lifestyle better. It’s just a matter of looking at your eating habits critically and really thinking about what you put in your body now. After all, you are what you eat.

In addition to these tips, Hartley says that the best option for students if they want to overhaul their eating lifestyle is to speak with their campus dietician or nutritionist who can give them advice and specific guidelines for their plans. Also, she reminds students that a balanced diet heavy on fruits and vegetables (at least five servings a day) is the best way to go.


College Magazine Staff

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