A good nutrition plan can help students maintain or develop a healthy diet while in college.
- Enjoy your food and seek to have a healthy relationship with food.
- Eat breakfast every day - Eat within one hour of waking and include protein such as eggs, nuts, peanut butter or Greek yogurt.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Choose powerful vegetables - The darker the color, the higher the concentration of nutrients. Great vegetable choices include spinach, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.
- Choose lean proteins - Chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, beans, cottage cheese, lean cuts of pork and beef
- 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.
- 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.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine - These are stimulants to the central nervous system which heighten emotions and can lead to increased anxiety.
- Look for stress relievers other than food - Examples can include exercise, meditation, yoga, study breaks with friends, watching TV, listening to music, warm shower.
- Get your sleep - Aim for a minimum of 8 hrs of sleep per night. Sleep is the foundation to wellness - physical, emotional and mental.
- 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.
- 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.
Eating a 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.
Healthy Snack Options
Healthy snacks can be an important part of a healthy diet. They provide important nutrients and energy, help you maintain a healthy metabolism, control hunger and stabilize blood sugar. Choose these balanced snacks between meals and one or more hours before exercise.
- Greek, low fat yogurt, or milk with 1/2 cup high fiber cereal (5+g fiber and protein)
- 100% whole wheat bread with nut butter
- Sandwich Thins or English muffin with nut butter and banana
- 2%, or low fat string cheese or nut butter and fruit of choice
- Carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, peppers with hummus/bean dip/guacamole
- Fresh or frozen fruit - add peanut butter or a glass of milk
- Nuts/trail mix
- Graham crackers with nut butter
- Whole grain crackers (Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Kashi, etc) with hummus, peanut butter, string cheese, Laughing Cow cheese or lowfat cheese of choice
- Snack bars: Kashi, Clif, Nature Valley, Sweet ‘n Salty, Zone, Odwalla, Kind, Luna, Lara
- Cottage cheese with fresh fruit or salsa
- Popcorn plus nuts/string cheese
- Edamame (soybeans)
- Kraft 2% mac and cheese
- Lean deli meat or frozen veggie burger on a sandwich thin
- Instant oatmeal with peanut butter or protein powder added
- Hard-boiled egg plus fruit or crackers
- Tuna packet to go plus crackers
High Glycemic Index Snacks
High glycemic index snacks are easily digested and absorbed for quick energy 30-60 minutes prior to exercise, gametime or half-time.
Fresh fruits: bananas, grapes, oranges, melons, fruit juice
Dried fruit: raisins, craisins, apricots, prunes
Cookies/Bars: Fig Newtons, Nutri-Grain Bars, Nature Valley Bars, Chew Granola Bars, graham crackers
Others: bagels or bread with or without jam, dry cereal (Rice Krispies, Special K, Chex), Gatorade, gummies, jelly beans, pretzels, crackers, sports gels