To college students, maintaining a balanced diet is important in providing the energy and nutrients to do physical activity, handling loads of homework and maintaining a healthy body weight. To balance a busy schedule and to avoid gaining the infamous "freshman 15," try following these tips to eat healthy with a meal plan.
•Don’t drink your calories
It can be tempting to fill up your cup with soda or fruit juices every time you enter Debot, but instead replace these sugary drinks with water.
"Many people think that fruit juice is healthy because it has the vitamins, but you’re better off to eat the whole fruit because you’re getting the fiber without all the calories," said Deborah Tang, an Associate Lecturer of the School of Health Promotion and Human Development.
•Avoid eating empty calories.
Empty calorie foods have calories from solid fats and/or added sugars, which add calories to the food but with few or no nutrients. To absorb the energy needed to keep your body running on a busy day, it is vital to eat foods with lots of vitamins and nutrients and avoid empty calorie foods such as sugary drinks, cookies, pizza, cheese, ice cream, hot dogs and bacon.
•Indulge in fruit.
Save chocolate for an occasional indulgence and grab an apple or a cup of strawberries for dessert. Fruit is a tasty alternative to empty calorie dessert foods, and still satisfies that sweet tooth!
•Learn proper portion size.
To avoid eating too much of even the healthiest foods, keep track of how much you’re eating. For most people, meat servings should be about the size of a deck of cards, pasta servings should be the size of a tennis ball and other servings vary by the type of food.
•Consider your options.
Most dining areas on campus have options, including different types of bread, milk, pasta and more. Instead of reaching for white bread and 2% milk, try to make at least half of your grains whole and drink skim milk.
It can be easy to skip meals with a busy schedule, but it is important to keep your metabolism in good, working order by eating on a regular basis.
"I typically tell my weight loss clients that they should eat every 4-5 hours so they don’t become overly hungry. That’s when we seem to abandon all of our knowledge on healthful eating and just filling our hunger gap," Tang said.
•Reference the MyPlate chart.
The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables and the other half should consist of whole grains and protein, along with a side of low-fat or non-fat dairy.