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Healthy Eating

Attending college provides an excellent opportunity for you to acquire balanced eating habits for the rest of your life!  Consider this: most of you are eating on your own for the first time.  You are now solely responsible for caring for your health and respecting your body by feeding it and keeping it strong, energized and well nourished.  You only get one body! Honor it and take care of it by not only fueling it well, but being mindful and enjoying the food you choose to eat. 

Progress, not Perfection

Eating well is not about perfection.  You don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy.  Most of what you eat can be primarily for nutritional health, but remember a smaller amount is simply for pleasure.   Live by the three tenets of healthy eating: Variety, Moderation and Balance.  For example, moderation does not mean elimination – removing whole groups of food can make it harder for your body to get the nutrients it needs.  Moderation is eating various amounts of food without going to extremes of either too little or too much.  There are no “good” or “bad” foods; all foods can be part of healthy eating, when eating in moderation.

Am I Physically Hungry?

This question may possibly benefit you more than any other piece of nutrition advice around.  Staying ahead of extreme hunger by eating at regular intervals will help you to maintain consistent energy levels and achieve optimal focus and concentration during the day.  Several research studies have also demonstrated that individuals who eat regularly are better able to maintain a healthy weight.  Honoring your hunger means being prepared to take the time to follow through with eating.  This could mean preparing meals or snacks ahead of time and bringing them with you to class or work.  Ask yourself several times throughout the day – “How hungry am I?”  Evaluate your hunger from 1 (completely starving, famished) to a 10 (Thanksgiving Day – stuffed!).  Practice following through with eating when your hunger reaches a 3 or 4 and stopping when you feel comfortably satisfied at a 7 or 8.



Mind the Mindless Eating

How many times have you sat down to study with a snack food such as a bag of pretzels, popcorn or chips and all of a sudden you realize – “I just ate the whole bag and I don’t even remember it?”  This scenario is a classic example of mindless eating – eating when you are distracted or without intention or focus.  Not only does mindless eating promote us to consume more calories, it also robs us of the opportunity to truly taste and derive satisfaction from what we are eating.  Use your college experience as an opportunity to practice good “eating hygiene” – avoid eating while engaged in other activities such as studying, playing on your phone, watching TV, driving or even walking to class.  When you do eat, sit in a comfortable environment. When possible, put the food you are eating on a plate and pay attention to how it tastes and notice when you are satisfied.  Keep in mind that more mindful eating = more enjoyment of your food and less overeating. 

Need More “A’s” This Semester? Make Time to Eat Breakfast.

No, coffee doesn’t count as breakfast.  Neither does an energy drink, nor a diet soda.  Prioritizing eating breakfast is a point that cannot be oversold to college students – eating breakfast might mean the difference between achieving A’s or not.  Many research studies over the years have supported that students at all levels who consistently eat breakfast perform better in school than those who don’t.  Also, individuals who maintain a healthy weight tend to be breakfast eaters as well. 

Eat the Rainbow.

It may sound corny, but it’s actually cool.  Make a point to choose fruits and vegetables of varying colors to eat throughout the day.  When you “eat the color,” you are filling your body with powerful disease fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals that may protect your health by lowering the negative effects of inflammation in the body.  Different colors contain different types of phytochemicals, that’s why having a variety of fruits and vegetables is a good thing.  See if you can achieve eating all five color categories in one day – red, orange/yellow, green, white and dark.  For example, a yellow banana at breakfast, red bell peppers on a salad at lunch, snacking on green celery with peanut butter, having black beans with dinner and eating a delicious pear for dessert. 

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