With a new semester right around the corner, now is the perfect time to begin establishing new healthy eating habits, particularly before the stresses of your classes set in.
Whether it’s a part of your New Year’s resolution, or is just something that’s been on the to-do list, eating healthy plays a large role in any healthy lifestyle. Setting down the potato chips and dialing back your pizza intake can sound scary, but there are a couple simple tips that can go a long way towards eating healthier.
Make Healthy Snacking Convenient
One of the simplest changes you can make for the new semester is to focus on healthy snacking. While “willpower” is inspiring, it is a lot easier to simply remove unhealthy snacks from the equation by — you guessed it — moving them out of arms reach. When left with a choice between a sleeve of cookies or plate of celery, the cookies are the likely victor.
However, by surrounding yourself with healthier snacks, you can make it convenient to eat right and easier to choose healthy. For many students, who are pulled every which way by the demands of college, convenience is key. This means stocking your dorm with fruits, vegetables, pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, rice cakes, or other healthy snacks.
Swing by our market locations to stock up on healthy treats for late-night cravings in your dorm and for a little pick-me-up between classes.
Don’t Multi-task when Eating
Everyone has experienced that moment where you sit down to watch TV with a new bag of chips and then, to your surprise, find a completely empty bag in your hands a couple hours later. This phenomenon also frequently occurs while studying or multi-tasking of any sort because when you eat passively and don’t pay attention to how much you’re eating, you don’t always recognize when you are full. When your body doesn’t acknowledge it’s full, you tend to overeat.
Avoid multi-tasking and make your meal or snack your primary focus. Set down your notes and be aware of how much you are eating, whether it’s a bag of pretzels or a tray of food at Harris. If you are snacking while studying, try to avoid eating out of the bag or container and set aside your serving on a separate plate or in a bowl beforehand, so you don’t eat more than you intended.
Additionally, take your time as you eat. It takes 20 minutes for your body to recognize that it’s full, so if you finish your plate and want seconds, it might be best to wait to see if you really are still hungry for another serving.
By now, you likely have your favorite dining locations and your favorite dining items. It’s normal to get into a habit of going to the same location and grabbing the same meal, particularly as the semester wears on and you adjust to your daily class schedule. Even if your go-to meal is a healthy choice, it’s a good idea to mix it up and introduce new flavors into your routine. Different foods offer different nutrients and introducing variety can help round out a healthy diet.
Cycle through the various offerings at buffet locations or try a location and meal you haven’t tried before. Is Dividends your go-to (of course it is, their salads are DELICIOUS)? Mix it up and give Garden Commons a try or at least experiment with new toppings on your salad. There are a lot of options across campus, so try something new!
Another easy place to adjust dining habits is with portion sizes, which can get a little out of control if you aren’t careful. That said, taking control of your portions is an easy way to take control of your diet.
As a general rule, when fixing a plate, you want to fill half the plate with vegetables and fruit (in favor of the veggies). A quarter of the plate is then used for protein with the final quarter reserved for whole grains like whole-grain pasta or brown rice. While many people tend to start filling their plate with the main course and then add the salad last, it is recommended that you begin at the salad bar. Filling half your plate with veggies and fruit will naturally cause you to dial back your entree portions.
To take it a step further, check out the below graphic for more details.
Mindful eating is a fancy way of saying “think about what you’re eating and why.” Some people eat because they are nervous, stressed or tired. Others eat simply because food is in front of them. Being mindful about your diet means thinking about why you are eating, if you are hungry and then being conscientious of what you are eating.
This idea of being “mindful” means paying attention to your portion sizes, which snacks you choose to consume and making sure you target fruits and vegetables throughout the day. It means limiting your sugar intake, drinking more water and, instead of two or three large meals per day, perhaps eating five to six smaller, nutritious meals that help you better maintain your energy throughout the day and help you avoid overeating with a large lunch/dinner.
This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to comfort food from time to time and it doesn’t mean you have to ignore half the food pyramid to “diet”, it just means being aware and working to develop healthy dining habits that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle!
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