When students enter college, their diets often deteriorate. There are many factors responsible for these changes - stress, sedentary lifestyle, changes in schedule due to study patterns, and changes in eating patterns in general. However, making smart nutritional choices can be very important for optimal well-being and academic performance. There are several actions that can be taken to ensure you are fulfilling all of your nutritional needs. Eating well requires some planning. Here are some basic tips:
Eat enough calories for the day. Calories are the amount of energy or fuel you get from each food you eat. There are general guidelines for how many calories you need to eat each day in order to maintain your current weight. Eat more calories than you need and you will gain weight. Eat fewer calories than you need and you will lose weight.
Eat a variety of types of food. Even the types and colors of different fruits and vegetables will help you maximize your nutrition daily overall.
Eat enough of the macronutrients that form the basis of your food. These are usually known as Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat. While you can find many opinions about how much of each category you need, the best general guidance is to eat about 15-20% (or more) of your calories from Protein, 15-(no more than) 30% of your calories from Fat, and 55-60% of your calories from Carbohydrates. Less fat is better for your health; some fat is essential for your health. Complex carbohydrates are good for you and should make up the majority of things you eat each day.
Simple carbohydrates, like candy, sugar, and corn syrup are non-nutritious. They are considered empty calories or junk food because while they are fuel and have calories, the calories are non-nutritious.
If you are eating enough variety of color and type of food and enough calories for your body and enough macronutrients then you will usually get enough micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Food is also categorized by types of things that you eat, for instance meat, dairy, grains, legumes, etc.
Choose organic when you can so that you consume fewer chemicals and things used to process and store food that is non-organic.
Eat locally and seasonally for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Choose a lean cut of meat for protein.
Use less salt, sugar.
Cook or choose grilled or broiled meat or fish.
Avoid fried foods or cut down on how often you eat them.
Try to choose foods that have fewer ingredients if it comes packaged. For instance, avoid long lists of ingredients that include things like additives, preservatives, coloring, or things you don’t even know about.
Eat no less than twice a day. Eating more often is fine.
Eat fruit. Fruit is not only a healthy choice, but it makes for a convenient snack. It's always offered in Leo’s and Vital Vittles and requires virtually no prep.
Take advantage of dining hall options. Leo’s offers a variety of healthy options, including the salad/wrap bar, stir fry bar, and vegan and vegetarian options. Additionally, they provide calorie counts and other nutritional information to help you make smart choices. Aim for a colorful, balanced plate of nutrient-rich foods.
It is generally recommended that you drink at least eight servings (8 ounces each) of water every day. This is in addition to any other beverages, like soda, sugary fruit juices, or coffee that you may drink. In fact, if you regularly consume caffeinated beverages (caffeine is found in regular coffee, many kinds of tea, and several sodas), you should drink more than eight glasses of water a day. This may seem excessive, but remember that your body can begin to suffer from dehydration before you even feel thirsty.
You should also surpass the eight-serving requirement if your body is losing water more rapidly than normal. This can occur when you exercise, perspire in excessive heat, are vomiting, or have diarrhea.
The most common symptoms of dehydration are thirst, fatigue, and an especially dark or bright yellow tinge to urine. Severe dehydration is potentially fatal, as it can lead your body to go into shock and shut down vital organs.