August 23rd, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
College life can be stressful. A poor diet complicates matters, impairing a student’s ability to study and succeed.
“Too many college students fall into the trap of late-night convenience foods that tend to be filled with fat, sodium, sugar and calories, and not many nutrients,” says registered dietitian Nettie Freshour, an adjunct professor of human nutrition & foods at West Virginia University. “When people follow this pattern for an extended period of time, they lose out on many important nutrients that fuel their metabolism. When these are missing in the diet, it can lead to feeling tired all the time and weight gain.
“When you feel better, you do better,” she adds. “Eating healthy foods and exercising have been shown to increase mood and self-esteem. This can lead to increased productivity and better grades—plus, you will stay more alert in class.”
Freshour offers the following tips for healthy eating:
- Consume a variety of foods that provide all of the nutrients needed to stay alert, feel great and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Fresh fruits and vegetables; whole-wheat and multigrain bread; lean sources of protein like grilled chicken and turkey, fish, beans, nuts and skim milk; and low- to non-fat dairy are good choices.
- Pack a lunch. It’s healthier and cheaper than eating out. Prepping lunch the night before class saves time and reduces stress. A homemade turkey sandwich, baby carrots and a banana are better than standing in line for a hamburger, fries and soda.
- Reduce fat intake. Avoid or limit deep-fried items, whole milk, high-sugar desserts and high-fat salad dressings. Try a quick, easy alternative: a whole-wheat bagel sandwich with 2 oz. turkey, lettuce, tomato and mustard.
- Avoid alcohol. In addition to decreased physical activity, alcohol is the other major factor in weight gain during college. Consuming two regular beers weekly will add 1 pound per semester. Consuming a 12-oz. strawberry daiquiri weekly will add 6 pounds per semester.
- Reduce caffeine intake. Consuming caffeinated beverages can cause dehydration, fatigue and headaches.
- Eat low-calorie foods. Consumption of high-fat, high-calorie foods leaves you tired and less motivated to exercise or study. Foods that are nutrient-dense, high in antioxidants, and low in fat and calories can help improve productivity, enhance mood, and help maintain or lose weight.
Editor’s note: We encourage you to choose organic foods, whenever possible, to avoid exposure to pesticides, preservatives and other chemicals.
Read More:6 College Survival Tips
September 6th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Dr. Lisa Sheehan-Smith, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of human sciences at Middle Tennessee State University, has come up with a four-step plan for college students who want to avoid gaining the freshman 15 lbs. She calls it the E.A.S.Y. approach, and its philosophy meshes perfectly with the principles of organic living:
E = Eat three meals a day to develop a consistent routine and avoid haphazard dining. “I always tell people that they need to have a plan for success, which means planning in advance when and what they’re going to eat,” Dr. Sheehan-Smith says. “Don’t leave it to chance because the choices may be full of calories, fat and sugar, but little nutrients.”
A = Ask if there are healthier options when dining on and off campus. Some sample questions to ask yourself: What is my class/work schedule? Based on my class/work schedule, when can I plan my meals? Where—and what—am I going to eat? “I tell my clients that the key to choosing healthy meals and snacks is to try and include a serving from three of the five basic food groups: whole-grain breads and cereals, fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy,” Dr. Sheehan-Smith says. “This eating plan gives you a variety of foods throughout the day and a nice balance of food groups, which will provide a diet more dense in nutrients.”
S = Snack defensively to maintain energy, while contributing to overall nutrition. “Avoid vending machines,” she advises. “Bring snack bags of raw veggies and cut-up fruit. Stick low-fat/low-sugar granola bars or cookies in your backpack. Munch on whole-grain crackers with some peanut butter. And if you can manage a small soft-sided cooler pack, then yogurt and cottage cheese can be good snacks—but remember to watch the portion sizes.”
Y = Yes to being active, including walking—not riding buses—to class to help manage stress and maintain your fitness level. “Take a P.E. class each semester, or work out at the campus recreation center,” Dr. Sheehan-Smith urges. “Or try playing intramural sports—a great way to meet new friends.”
Read More:The Freshman 15—Part 2
September 5th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
If you’re the parent of a college student, you may be familiar with the “freshman 15”—the 15 lbs. that undergraduates often gain because of late-night study sessions, inadequate sleep and regular snacking. It can be hard to find fresh organic food in a dorm, and many students rely on potato chips, caffeinated colas and fast food to keep them going.
“On average, kids do gain weight [during their freshman year of college], and it’s because of the change in lifestyle,” says Dr. Janet Colson, a registered dietitian and professor of human sciences at Middle Tennessee State University. “Most incoming college students don’t have mom to pick out their foods for them anymore or pack their lunches, and so they start making unwise choices.”
One university study revealed students gain an average of 4 lbs. during the first three months of their freshman year—a weight gain that’s 11 times higher than that for the typical 17- to 18-year-old.
“Accompanying late-night study is late-night eating,” Dr. Colson says. “And what do you do when you’re staying up late? You’re eating and adding calories.”
Complicating matters are all-you-can-eat campus buffets, which challenge one’s sense of portion control. Many students also opt to ride shuttle buses across campus instead of walking to classes.
“We hear students gripe about how far away parking is from campus and all their classes,” Dr. Colson says. “Really, we should be thankful it’s so far away because the exercise is needed.”
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of this story, which offers four Freshman 15 solutions.
Read More:The Freshman 15—Part 1