Feeding Your Brain: Tips for College Students

Taking part in the college experience can include many firsts, but poor nutrition and health do not have to be one of them. Being on your own requires time management and planning to create your schedule and fulfill responsibilities. Food is one of our basic needs to survive, yet when planning healthy meals and snacks, many put it on the back burner. Start the school year on the right foot by choosing the right balance of foods to provide you the brainpower to excel in class and make health a priority.

If you live in a dorm, take advantage of the fridge space you have to pack in the nutrition. Keep low-fat or fat-free string cheese on hand to pair with fruits, veggies, dry cereal, or enjoy it all by itself. It will benefit your muscle and bone health and can be enjoyed on your way to class. Keep milk on hand to pair with dry cereal and use in place of water when making oatmeal. It can also be added to a smoothie or enjoyed alone. Did you know a glass of milk includes vitamin A that promotes healthy skin and immunity, phosphorus and calcium for bone health, potassium to keep your blood pressure in check, Vitamin B-12 to help build red blood cells, and so much more. If your fridge space is running short, or you’re not consuming all of your milk in time before it expires, keep on hand packets of nonfat dry milk. Yogurt is another bone-building and protein-packed snack to keep stocked. It’s great for breakfast, on-the-go, or post-exercise workouts. If you don’t have access to a stove, no problem, use your favorite coffee mug for cooking up scrambled eggs. Once cooked, stir in your favorite chopped veggies and sprinkle with cheese, and your muscles will start your day fueled up.

Remember you want to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day and vary the color as each provides different vitamins and minerals that provide various health benefits. They include a healthy heart, lowering your risk for some cancers, strong vision, immunity, strong bones and teeth, and good memory. Starting your day with some veggies with eggs or in a smoothie gets you on your way to consuming what your body needs to feel its best every day. Keep in the fridge veggies you can add to your meals or snack on. Before heading out to meet your friends for pizza, have a small salad; your heart will thank you. Make a game plan of your meals in advance for the areas on and off campus where you will consume your meals, to know what snacks or items you need to have on hand or take with you on the go to help you stay on track with your nutrition.

Be creative with your storage space and make room for non-perishable items. When choosing dry cereal, check out the nutrition facts label. Check out the ingredients; they are listed by weight, and the first 3-5 are mainly what the food is made of. Look for whole grains, such as oats, wheat, barley, and rice. Half your grains each day should be whole grains to help keep your digestive systems on track and your heart healthy. Aiming for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving will help you reach your fiber needs for the day. Speaking of serving size, take the time to measure out what one serving is to provide you with a visual. Depending on what else you are balancing it with, you may choose more than one serving at a time. Aim for at least 3-5 food groups with meals and at least two food groups with snacks, making sure to include missed food groups from one meal the next time you eat. Having whole grain bread on hand and peanut butter helps make a quick and nutritious meal or snack any time of day. Trade the salty chips for air-popped popcorn. Skip the butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, cinnamon, garlic powder, chili powder, or other seasonings besides salt to enjoy a little extra flavor while keeping health in mind.

Being on your own gives you freedom of your food choices, but what you eat matters. Plan ahead, and balance healthy options that are available with others you have on hand to make the most of your nutrition each day and keep you focused for a great academic year ahead.


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Posted: August 16, 2022

Tags: College Nutrition, Health, Healthy Choices

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