College Nutrition 101
Hilary McMahon, RDN, LDN, Capital BlueCross | 09.05.16
We all remember our favorite college meals. Sometimes, I still crave the creamy, delicious macaroni and cheese from Messiah College's dining hall! Just like home, however, you need to eat your favorite foods in moderation, while maintaining a balanced diet.
Going away to college brings many changes, but nutrition doesn't have to suffer. Here are some helpful tips to maintain a healthy diet away from home:
- Eat fruits or vegetables with every meal. Think about creating a colorful plate - and that doesn't mean Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms! The more natural color, the larger variety of vitamins and minerals.
- Avoid skipping meals. Working breakfast, lunch, and dinner into a busy class and activity schedule can be challenging, but depriving your body of meals can slow down your metabolism over time. If you aren't hungry for breakfast, grab something small to take to class.
- Keep healthy snacks in your dorm or apartment. This is especially good advice if you're a late-night eater. Fruits, veggies, yogurts, string cheese, whole wheat crackers with hummus, and nuts are all delicious and nutritious options. If you keep snack foods around, be sure to eat the proper portions, and always put them in a bowl instead of eating out of the bag.
- Manage portion size. An unlimited meal plan makes it tempting to get back in line for seconds or thirds! Stick to one plate, and if you're still hungry, reach for vegetables first. They are low in calories and full of fiber, which fills you up faster.
- Don't drink your calories. High caloric beverages like lattes and soda should be enjoyed in moderation. Remember, drinks go down faster than food, and don't fill you up the same! Water, unsweetened iced tea, and black coffee have little to no calories and are satisfying.
- Stay hydrated. Not drinking enough water sends your body into dehydration mode, switching your body's energy onto that, instead of proper digestion. This can lead to weight gain over time. Always drink water before or after a caffeinated beverage since caffeine dehydrates you.
- Exercise! Exercise boosts mood, relieves stress, and can help balance out any extra calories eaten during the day. Experts recommend 30-60 minutes per day about 5 days a week.
For more nutrition tips, visit your local dietitian. If there are nutrition students on campus, they are also a great resource for dietary advice.
Hilary is a registered dietitian for Capital BlueCross. As a Messiah College and Penn State program graduate, she loves exploring the world of food and continually learning about the ever-changing world of nutrition. At Capital Blue, Hilary offers one on one nutrition appointments to help individuals reach their lifestyle and wellness goals, She actively participates in creating a healthier community through wellness initiatives, both within the walls of the Capital Blue Retail Store in Enola, as well as out in the community.