Healthy Eating in College

College life can present unique challenges when it comes to eating well and ensuring your diet contains the wide variety of vitamins and minerals it depends on to perform at its best. While juggling a packed schedule, it may seem like skipping a meal will free up some much needed time. Eating on the run can make choosing balanced meals and nutrient-rich foods more difficult.  And, social events often involve food – particularly higher calorie snacks and sweets. But here's the reality:

  • Regular healthy meals keeps your energy up.
  • Skipping meals reduces concentration and increases fatigue.
  • Fatigue can also be an early sign of dehydration.

Here are a few of the top tips for staying fueled and focused…

  • Don't skip meals
  • Eat mindfully 
  • Stay hydrated

What is Healthy Eating?

The graph below, from the Dietary Guidelines of Americans 2010, demonstrates how they typical American diet compares to the recommended intake of various healthy and unhealthy food options: 

TAKE HOME MESSAGE*:

  • Eat more of these foods: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and seafood, vegetable oils, beans, nuts, and seeds.
  • Eat less of these foods: whole milk and other full-fat dairy foods, red meat, processed meats, highly refined and processed grains and sugars, and sugary drinks.

****We recommend eating MORE healthy foods and LESS not so healthy foods.  Unless you are medically advised otherwise, there is no reason to completely restrict foods from your diet (everything in moderation). However, as you can see from the graph above, Americans are eating far too much of the things we should be eating less of and far too little of the foods we should be eating more of. Food for thought!**** 

Smart Snacking:  Make the Healthy Choice, the Easy Choice!

Snacks are necessary for combating hunger between meals. Eating a small and balanced snack when you’re feeling hungry will ensure you fueled for your day and keep you from overeating at your next meal.

Did you know?

  • Adding a snack between meals is a good way to add fruits and veggies to your daily intake.
  • Only 4% of UF students report eating the daily recommended servings of fruits and veggies.

Smart Snacking Rules to Follow:

  • Balance Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats
  • Carbohydrates provide a quick spike in blood sugar to  get you going
  • Complex carbohydrates may help you avoid a subsequent sugar “crash” often experienced after consumption of refined sugars, such as white breads or sweets
  • Protein and fats help sustain blood sugar levels to ward off hunger for a longer period of time.
  • Mind Your Portions 

Keeping snack portions small will satisfy your hunger without spoiling your appetite for the next meal.

 Here are some snack options: 

  • Whole Wheat Crackers + Sliced Cheese = Enjoy cheese with crackers. Add veggies, like a spinach leaf or sliced avocado for an extra treat.
  • Veggie Sticks + Hummus Dip = Dip veggie sticks in hummus dip and enjoy (Try making your own hummus at home, and add veggies like roasted red pepper.)
  • Fresh Fruit + Cottage Cheese = Combine cottage cheese and fresh fruit in a bowl.
  • Whole Wheat Bread + Canned Tuna + Season canned tuna with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard, or whatever seasonings you like. = Enjoy on bread as a sandwich or open-faced on toast.
  • Whole Grain Cereal or Granola + Low Fat Milk or Yogurt = Combine and eat! Top with nuts, flax seeds, honey, or toasted coconut.
  • Dried Fruit + Nuts = Make your own trail mix! Keep a bag in your backpack to snack on between classes.

Local and Sustainable Foods

According to Sustainable Table, “In simplest terms, sustainable agriculture is the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.” GatorWell supports sustainable food practices and food justice as a mechanism to improve individual health, as well as the health of the local community and ultimately the world. Food justice starts with you! Below are some tips for supporting sustainable food practices, food justice and your health!

Active Living

College life can present unique challenges when it comes to staying active. While juggling a packed schedule, it may seem like cutting out exercise will free up some much needed time. However, research shows that including exercise in your daily and/or weekly routine, can improve your intellectual prowess and reduce stress, in addition to being good for your physical health. Even if you only move for a short period of time, you will feel more energized and ready to take on the next study session! Get up and move to feel better about your health!

How much physical activity do adults need? 

Stay active by making it easy and fun-enlist your friends to join in the fun!

Resources

10 Tips Educational Series: 

Campus Resources:

General Nutrition

Mindful or Intuitive Eating

Body Image & Eating Disorders