By: Noelle Harada, Columnist
From beach bumming to sitting on your bum in class–summer is officially over. Just because your body won’t be on display at the beach for another year doesn’t mean you should give up on your health and wellness goals. Eating healthy shouldn’t be an urgent cry for a summer bod, it should be a year-round approach to living as the healthiest and happiest version of you. The beginning of the school year signifies a new start. New classes, new friends and a new opportunity to improve your GPA as well as yourself.
Eating healthy in college is about making smart and responsible choices. There isn’t a home-cooked meal waiting for you after class, and your parents aren’t nagging you to eat your vegetables on a nightly basis. For the first time in your life, you can eat that piece of cake at 5 p.m. without anyone telling you to wait for dinner. In college, the choices you make regarding your diet are completely on you. Whether you live on or off campus, knowing a few basic tricks can help you eat right. Eating a healthy breakfast, limiting your added sugar and saturated/trans fat intake, drinking plenty of water and being conscious of portion sizes are all important aspects of a healthy diet.
Everybody says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In college, you may be tempted to run out the door for your 8 a.m. with nothing but your backpack. Breakfast, however, is shown to improve concentration and performance in the classroom. While you brush your teeth, pop a piece of whole grain bread in the toaster. By the time you’re ready to go, grab the toast and smear it with some peanut butter for a satisfying breakfast on the go. If toast isn’t your thing, grab a banana and a cup of yogurt. Starting your day off with a satisfying and healthy breakfast will not only benefit you in the classroom, but it may also help you make better food choices later in the day.
Although what you eat matters, how much you eat can make or break you. With all-you-can-eat dining halls and countless opportunities for free food, listening to your body and understanding portion sizes are essential. In the dining halls, using smaller plates may help keep your portion sizes in check. After you finish eating, drink a glass of water and ask yourself if you are still truly hungry. If you are, then it is okay to go for seconds.
There are a few other tricks everyone should know about navigating the dining halls. The colorful display of desserts may be tempting, but dessert should be eaten as a special treat, not as an essential part of every meal. Dessert aside, make smart choices about what beverages you choose; opt for water or a glass of milk instead of the bottomless cup of soda. Did you know that every make-your-own omelet station offers egg whites? Or that whole wheat pasta is available at Patuxent? How about that every deli offers light mayo and whole grain breads? Simply ask the dining hall managers about healthier offerings. Knowing the ins and outs of each dining hall can assist you in making more mindful decisions.
The freshman 15 isn’t inevitable, the sophomore slump is for chumps, and you cannot coast through your upperclassmen years. Take advantage of every opportunity thrown your way, including the opportunity to improve your wellbeing through nutrition. Sure, the occasional late night pizza may be part of the college experience, but learning to eat in balance can lead to a lifetime of health and happiness.
As always, there are free nutrition services available to all Towson students. Make an appointment with the campus dietitian to ask questions, get nutritional advice, or go on a dining hall tour to learn how to eat healthy on campus. In addition to these nutritional services, join the Towson University Nutrition Club to meet other students interested in health and nutrition. For additional information about these opportunities, contact Kerry Ballek, the campus dietitian at firstname.lastname@example.org.