Nutrition Basics for College Students

5 Tips To Help College Students Make Better Nutrition Choices

I am blessed to work with college students every day, helping them to prepare for their career.  This post was inspired by the time I spend in the dining hall on campus and a friend's facebook post about "Freshmen 15".  I am always interested in talking with the students with whom I work about their dining experiences.  Some WANT to make better food choices and are just really baffled about how to start.  I thought that we'd start with the basics of navigating a dining hall and college eating.

1) Serving Size

When it comes to your plate, even though most dining halls are "all you can eat", operating in this manner will quickly lead to needing bigger pants.  Commit to sticking to portion sizes.  Portion sizes can come in "handy".  Literally - use your HAND to guide how much you really need:
Next, visually divide your plate into 3 sections: 1/2 your plate should be of two types of veggies and 1/3 a lean protein and the other 1/3 a healthy whole grain or healthy starch.  

2) Get in (the right!) Line

Its human nature to be "in awe" of the food choices!  Breakfast for dinner, donuts, pizza, french fries and chicken tenders... that pork tenderloin and steamed squash are usually the shortest lines in a college dining hall.  Hey, I get it!  Why would you want to eat a lean meat and steamed veggies when you could indulge in fried food or pizza every single day?   If you're really looking to make healthy choices or to just avoid the "Freshmen 15" then create a plan for success.  Tell yourself that you will only choose pizza ONE day a week and will limit yourself to one or two slices.  When it comes to breakfast, avoid the carb-rich meals like sugary cereal, waffles or pancakes and choose a protein like eggs or a healthier carb like oatmeal.  If you can partner up with a friend or roommate to stick to making healthier choices it will be easier!

3) Choose Water over Sugary Drinks

This seems like a crazy tip, but so many people fill up on soda, sport drinks or coffee shop drinks and they drink their calories and lack hydration.  Drinking your water helps you to have more energy, stay focused and feel better.  Once you're thirsty, your body is already lacking water.  Dehydration can also be masked as hunger, causing us to eat more than we need. Skip the fountain drinks and go for WATER!

4) Skip the Dessert

I know, I'm no fun, right?  Cakes, cookies, brownies, ice cream, OH MY... Set one day a week to have a dessert if you feel it is necessary and choose small portions.  The sugar isn't anything you need and it will only make you crash once the sugar wears off. Avoid this by limiting your intake and avoid the extra calories.


Most young students don't worry about fiber - but its important for so many reason. It helps to keep your blood sugar level, keep you feeling full and is great for your overall digestive health.  Avoid white breads, white rice and other "enriched" flour products.

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