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How to Eat Well

The Basics:

  • Make sure you eat breakfast. It really is the most important meal of the day. Eat within one hour of waking to help boost your metabolism, give you energy, and start the day with good nutrition. If you get up at 11:30 am, make lunch your breakfast, and be sure to have a healthy late night snack, so you have three meals for that day.
  • Eat at least three meals per day. Our bodies are designed to eat every four hours or so when awake.  This means that if you eat dinner at 6 pm and are awake until 2 am, you need to have a meal around 10 or 11 pm. This is especially important if you don’t eat breakfast! This late night meal should be healthy, which takes some planning. Stock your kitchen or dorm room with healthy foods to have late at night (see box below).
    Commit to having at least 2 servings of fruits and/or vegetables at every meal. Have a variety of fruits and vegetables, some cooked and some raw. Fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, providing your body with much needed vitamins and minerals.
  • Balance your food intake throughout the day. Skipping breakfast or lunch, or restricting your food intake at mealtimes leaves you feeling famished and more likely to make poor nutritional choices. 
    Diets don’t work! While dieting can result in modest weight loss, most diets are not designed to be lifelong eating patterns. As soon as you return to normal eating, you will gain the weight back. Studies have shown that some diets can actually lead to lifelong health problems, weight issues, and eating disorders. The best way to maintain your ideal body weight is to eat 3 healthy meals per day and get a moderate amount of daily exercise.
  • Think of food as fuel for your body. Put the best quality fuel in to get your best performance; academically, occupationally, and physically.

Tips for eating in the dining hall

  • Survey the choices before you decide what to eat.
  • If possible look at the menu for the dining hall before you go. If it’s not posted, then ask to have it posted.
  • Go through the food line once. Then get seconds or dessert if you are still hungry.
  • Emphasize whole foods (ones not overly processed) that are close to their natural state. Examples include meat, beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Snacks to have on hand in your kitchen or dorm room

  • Think meal type foods rather than overly salty or sweet, especially if you’ll be having a late night ‘meal’.
  • Some possibilities are: yogurt, cheese, baby carrots or other raw vegetables, hummus, milk, crackers, applesauce, corn chips, salsa, guacamole, fruit, cereal, peanut butter, bread, bagels, macaroni and cheese, pasta, couscous, bean dip, pre-baked tofu, turkey slices, tuna, canned refried beans, and canned soups.

Tips for eating out

  • If you eat out only once in a while, then eat whatever, since an occasional splurge is not going to negatively impact your health.
  • If you eat out regularly, then learn how to make healthy choices. Ask for heavy dressings or sauces on the side. Make sure you have vegetables and fruits at the meal and eat moderate amounts of the bread or chips before the meal, so you don’t get overly full.
  • Stop before you feel stuffed and take the rest home for lunch or dinner the next day. Most restaurants serve very large portions. Often, there is enough for two meals!

Essential Information: Nutrition for College Students

Nutrition Basics

  • Everyone needs carbohydrates, proteins and fats in their daily food intake.  These are called macronutrients, and are found in virtually every whole food, in varying proportions.
  • Carbohydrates provide the body with energy for all body processes.  Approximately 60% of a healthy diet consists of carbohydrates.  One gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories.
  • Fats provide the body with concentrated energy and are essential for processing vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat is necessary for hormonal regulation, insulation, and protection of the internal organs. 20-30% of your daily caloric intake should be from fats. One gram of fat contains 9 calories.
  • Proteins are the building blocks of the body, and consist of amino acids. We need to get 9 amino acids from our diet each day. Approximately 10-20% of our caloric intake should come from protein. One gram of protein contains 4 calories.
  • Daily protein intake should be about .4 grams per pound of body weight, unless you exercise regularly.  If you’re a recreational athlete, you need .6 grams per pound of body weight. Competitive athletes need .8-.9 grams per pound of body weight.
  • The human body is 70% water, so we need to drink plenty of liquids throughout each day. Aim for half of your body weight in oz daily (for example, someone who weights 120 lbs. would need 60 oz of fluid daily). Alcohol, heat, diuretics, exercise, and some over the counter and prescription medications can deplete the body of water, so extra may be needed.
  • Fiber is a carbohydrate that the body doesn’t absorb but needs to prevent some chronic diseases. Insoluble fiber is especially important for the health of the digestive tract, while soluble fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol. Fiber is found in plant-based food such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Adults need 25-30 grams of fiber daily.
  • An important mineral, especially for young women, is iron. Iron is involved in carrying oxygen throughout the body, and iron deficiency causes fatigue. Women need at least 15 mg of iron daily, and men need 10mg daily. Foods high in iron include red meat, dried fruit, lima beans, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, whole grain breads, fortified cereals, tuna, broccoli, chicken, squash and pumpkin.
  • Calcium is important for healthy teeth and bones and also plays a role in muscle contractions. The RDA for calcium is 1000mg. Good sources include dairy products, dark leafy greens, broccoli, calcium fortified orange juice or soy milk, tofu, beans, and sesame seeds.
  • Vegetarians must be aware of getting the following nutrients: calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin B-12. If you eat dairy products and eggs, you need only be concerned with getting iron and zinc, but if you do not eat any animal products at all, you must be diligent about eating foods high in calcium, iron, and zinc, and taking a vitamin B-12 supplement.
  • www.choosemyplate.gov/ is an excellent resource for healthy eating guidelines. The website has daily nutritional information that can be customized to your age, sex, and activity level. Your personalized plan shows exactly how many servings you should have from each of the food groups and has extensive information to help you make good daily nutritional choices.

For more information, contact SHCS Wellness Center at 909-869-4339/2017/2753.