Healthy College Eating Tips

A good nutrition plan can help students maintain or develop a healthy diet while in college.

General Tips

  1. Enjoy your food and have a healthy relationship with food.
  2. Eat breakfast every day - Eat within one hour of waking and include protein such as eggs, nuts, peanut butter or Greek yogurt.
  3. Eat at regular time intervals - preferably every 3-4 hours. Hunger builds when you go too long without eating which can lead to over-eating. If you eat an evening snack, have it midway between dinner and bedtime.
  4. Eat to be "smart" - Include foods that contain iron, B vitamins and Vitamin C. Try lean red meat, spinach, whole grain breads and cereal, eggs, nuts, oranges, apples and carrots.
  5. Eat Fruit - Fruit ranks high among the best foods you can eat for your brain. The natural sugars in fruit offer clean energy, so you don't experience the crash that follows consumption of refined sugar.
  6. Choose powerful vegetables - The darker the color, the higher the concentration of nutrients. Great vegetable choices include spinach, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.
  7. Choose lean proteins - Chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, beans, cottage cheese, lean cuts of pork and beef
  8. Include healthy fats - Omega oils and plant fats are excellent for your brain, heart and inflammation. They also help to fill you up and stabilize blood sugar. Avocado, nuts, nut butters, seeds, fish, olives, olive oil.
  9. Smart snacking can enhance productivity and mood - Try to get two food groups into your snacks to balance the nutrients and keep your blood-sugar level stable. Smart snack examples are banana with peanut butter, cheese and crackers, Greek yogurt with cereal. Avoid late night snacking.
  10. Avoid caffeine and nicotine - These are stimulants to the central nervous system which heighten emotions and can lead to increased anxiety.
  11. Look for stress relievers other than food - Examples can include exercise, meditation, yoga, study breaks with friends, watching TV, listening to music, warm shower.
  12. Get your sleep - Aim for a minimum of 8 hrs of sleep per night. Sleep is the foundation to wellness - physical, emotional and mental.
  13. Stay hydrated - Your brain cells work better when they are hydrated. Water, milk and 100% fruit juice are good choices. You should have a half ounce of fluid per pound of body weight each day.
  14. Avoid excessive alcohol - Alcohol is an amnesiac—not ideal for college students. Alcohol is dehydrating and stays in your system for 72 hours. Alcohol adds empty calories.

Balanced Diet

For both meals and snacks, you'll want a balance of complex carbs, lean proteins and healthy fats. Choose foods that come from food groups, such as grains, meat, fruit vegetable, dairy and fat. Use the chart below to see how you can find a better balance in your diet.

Carbohydrates

Function

Body’s preferred source of fuel. Should make up 55-65% of caloric intake. Broken down to glucose for energy and stored as glycogen in muscles and liver. The ability to sustain prolonged vigorous exercise is directly related to initial levels of muscle glycogen.

Choose

Whole grain breads and pastas; brown rice, high fiber cereal (aim for at least 5g fiber and protein), sweet potatoes, quinoa, fruit, milk, beans, vegetables

Lose

Candy bars, candy, chips, white bread, biscuits, sugary pastries, pop-tarts, doughnuts, sugary cereals, fruit "drink", soda, French fries

Fats

Function

Source of fuel and stored energy. Should make up ~25% of caloric intake. Promotes heart health, brain health and reduces muscular pain and inflammation. Adds satisfaction and flavor to food. Transports fat soluble vitamins. Provides insulation and cushion for joints. Precursor to hormones and building blocks of the cell wall.

Choose

Olive oil, canola oil, almonds, walnuts, pecans, seeds, peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, avocado (guacamole), hummus, tuna, salmon

Lose

Chips, fried foods, high-fat dairy such as butter, cheese and cream. Candy bars, desserts

Protein

Function

Source of fuel after carbs and fat ~20% of caloric intake. Structural proteins form most of the solid material in the human body such as hair, muscles, tendons and skin. Functional proteins help carry out activities and functions in the body such as transporting oxygen and allowing muscles to contract.

Choose

Lean meat such as loin, round, roast, flank steak; 93% lean ground beef or turkey; lean deli meat. Eggs. Chicken and turkey without skin; all fish and shellfish; all beans such as black, kidney, pinto, soy; low fat dairy such as skim milk, low fat cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt

Lose

High fat cuts of meat such as ribs, ribeye, chicken wings, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, bologna, fried meat, cheese