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Nutrition 101

Eating healthy and finding healthy food choices requires persistence and can be especially challenging when you're a busy college student. The Wellness Center is here to help! We are committed to educating and supporting you to make healthy food choices and improve your overall health and wellbeing.
 
Professional Health Educators and Nutrition Peer Health Educators are available for individual appointments to provide education on nutrition and personal support at no cost to you.

Maintaining a healthy diet during college can be difficult, but learning how to eat well in college will help you to perform your best.  We recommend that you follow a diet based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and resist the billion dollar marketing machine that is trying to sell you the latest fad diet.  We also recommend that you eat mindfully (7 Mindful Eating tips) and learn to cope with stress to improve your overall health and wellness.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans [Dietary Guidelines] provides science-based advice to promote health and to reduce risk for major chronic diseases through diet and physical activity. Major causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States are related to poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Some specific diseases linked to poor diet and physical inactivity include cardiovascular diseasetype 2 diabeteshypertensionosteoporosis, and certain cancers.

Furthermore, poor diet and physical inactivity, resulting in an energy imbalance (more calories consumed than expended), are the most important factors contributing to the increase in overweight and obesity in this country. Combined with physical activity, following a diet that does not provide excess calories according to the recommendations in this document should enhance the health of most individuals.

Key Recommendations from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Adequate Nutrients within Calorie Needs

  • Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups while choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated and transfats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
  • Meet recommended intakes within energy needs by adopting a balanced eating pattern, such as the USDA Food Guide or the DASH Eating Plan.

Weight Management

  • To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended.
  • To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.

Food Groups to Encourage

  • Consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables while staying within energy needs. Two cups of fruit and 21/2 cups of vegetables per day are recommended for a reference 2,000-calorie intake, with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level.
  • Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. In particular, select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.
  • Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products per day, with the rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole-grain products. In general, at least half the grains should come from whole grains.
  • Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.

Fats

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
  • Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
  • Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.

Carbohydrates

  • Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains often.
  • Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners, such as amounts suggested by the USDA Food Guide or the DASH Eating Plan.
  • Reduce the incidence of dental caries by practicing good oral hygiene and consuming sugar- and starch-containing foods and beverages less frequently.

Sodium and Potassium

  • Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 tsp of salt) of sodium per day.
  • Choose and prepare foods with little salt. At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

For more information on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans go to: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf

Now, test your knowledge and take this Nutrition Quiz.