What’s Wrong with My Typical College Diet?

Article Written by Abby Larson, Junior and SAND (Student Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) Member

      The average college lifestyle is not conducive to healthful habits. Erratic schedules, inconsistent sleep, limited budgets, and constant temptations are characteristic of college life added to the already present challenges of a healthy diet.  In this blog I’ll detail some college staples and easy changes to flip the “freshman fifteen” to “freshman fit”.

Pizza

Organization events, Uptown, delivery services… pizza is everywhere for college students.  It’s easy, fast, and delicious.  Pizza varieties tend to be carb- and fat-laden, and deficient in important nutrients. Rather than the greasy, processed variety, try making pizza using whole wheat tortilla or naan bread with tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese, spinach, chicken, and basil. Substitute any other toppings for a pizza that’s just as satisfying without the guilt.

Ramen

Ramen is notoriously simple to make. The flavor pack for the chicken variety contains an alarming 1,820 mg of sodium, and the FDA recommends consuming at most 2,300 mg per day. With a lot of sodium and little other nutritional benefits, ditch the flavor pack for seasonings such as garlic, pepper, or fresh herbs along with vegetables and a protein, like chicken, beef, shrimp, or an egg.  

Ramen frequently takes the form of a midnight meal. The timing of meals is as important as the meal itself. Indulging late at night usually doesn’t involve nutrient-dense foods, and on top of this, these calories are more likely to be stored as fat in your body.

Dining Halls

In dining halls, it’s easy to fill your plate up (maybe two or three times) with all the mac and cheese, fries, and chicken strips that fit.  Doing so can result in overeating certain nutrients like trans-fat or carbohydrates and missing out on others like fiber or vitamins.  Instead, make the most of the meal plan swipe by going in with a plan and filling up on the healthy options. A balanced plate of vegetables, fruits, protein, and dairy leads to a more satisfying, and nutritious, experience.

In college, and in life, unhealthy and healthy options are available. By thinking about what you chose to eat and making healthful food choices will help you begin to make lifestyle changes. Preparing food by oneself takes a little more preparation and work but improves the taste and nutritional quality. Ultimately, healthy choices involves lifestyle changes that promote balance and variety. Making small changes can lead to significant improvements.


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