By April Miller, RD, CPT
Clinical Dietitian, U of R Healthy Living Center
For college students, the fall semester is half way through – but this doesn’t need to mean halfway through the “freshman fifteen” as well! While gaining weight is a common concern for college students of all years, there are many ways to prevent weight gain while in school, and even to lose weight if that is your goal. Although long hours of studying must certainly be accompanied by some “brain food” to munch on, and college socializing is often centered on food and drinks, college also offers more opportunities to be physically active than most other life stages. From trekking around the beautiful Rochester campuses to playing Frisbee on the arts quad, to sledding on stolen lunch trays, or playing intramural sports, you’re bound to find something you enjoy! Additionally, healthy food can be available and affordable if you know where to look!
When trying to maintain healthy eating habits or perhaps developing some new ones, keep the following 6 tips in mind:
- Be mindful: Our food choices and portions are often dictated just as much by our emotions as by our hunger levels, and in college emotions can pretty much span the entire spectrum. Before picking up cookies on your way home from the library at 2:00am, check in with yourself by asking the following questions:
– Am I hungry? When was my last meal?
– Is there any pattern to my snacking habits?
– Am I eating out of boredom? Anxiety about my midterm? Loneliness?
Noticing patterns can kick start the problem-solving process! If you’re always hungry when you leave the library, pack a healthy snack to munch on! If loneliness, anxiety, or depression are common stimuli for snacking, try talking to a friend you can trust or seeking out on-campus student counseling services for assistance.
- Don’t skip breakfast: Research suggests that eating a balanced breakfast high in protein may increase your metabolism throughout the rest of the day, helping you burn calories long after your meal. If you’re struggling to find a quick and cheap grab ‘n go breakfast, try one of these 8 high protein, high fiber overnight oats recipes! Just put the ingredients in a jar before your go to bed, and take them with you in the morning. Alternatively, if you’re looking to add some veggies to your breakfast, try these easy make-ahead individual frittatas.
- Snack smart: Healthy and satisfying snacks should contain 3 things: fat, fiber, and protein. All of these components leave the stomach slowly, meaning you stay fuller longer! Some examples of power house snacks include a handful of nuts, a whole grain pita with hummus, a 100 calorie pack of guacamole with cheese and crackers, yogurt with chia seeds, or an apple with peanut butter.
- Look for key words when browsing the dining hall menu: Words or phrases such as au gratin, breaded, fried, southern style, creamy/creamed, hollandaise, parmesan, and rich, often indicate menu items that are higher in calories and fats that will raise your cholesterol. Instead of choosing dishes with these labels, try menu items that contain words like baked, broiled, poached, roasted, steamed, or stir-fried, which often indicate dishes that are lower in calories.
- Talk to a Registered Dietitian: If developing healthy habits seems unattainable, or you’re just looking for some customized dietary advice, talk to a local dietitian at the University of Rochester Healthy Living Center. Specializing in preventive medicine, these dietitians work to address health concerns through lifestyle change before they develop into chronic disease – and they’ve already helped thousands of people in your community!
- Shop online at Hart’s of course! What could be more convenient than having Hart’s Local Grocers shop for you? With options for pickup and delivery, it couldn’t be easier to find fresh, local, whole food to fuel your college experience. Plus, students get 10% off their grocery purchase each Monday with their student I.D. (in-store only, cannot be used online).