The kids have gone off to college. Some for the first time, some returning to that parent-free no nutrition guidelines environment. If you've just sent your student back to school you may be wondering what they're eating. Unfortunately for many of them if it's not standard college fare (often run by cafeteria companies such as Aramark) it's fast food. As parents we know this isn't a great choice but now that they're off on their own it's tough to get information across to them.
Five fabulous tips for your college student are:
- Portion Control: Dining halls make it easy to overeat. Be mindful of your portion sizes. Start small. If you're still hungry you can go back for seconds, but if you load up your plate chances are high that you will over-eat.
- Don't Skip: You're in a hurry and it's tempting to skip breakfast but don't do it. Eating a balanced breakfast keeps your metabolism going and your blood sugar stable all day long.
- Rethink Your Drink: Cool, they have soda at every meal, even breakfast! NOT! Those empty calories sure add up. And diet soda is high in chemicals that are not good for your health. Juice is also freely available but very high in sugar. Make sure you stay hydrated and drink more water. Consider adding lemon to flavor it a little. Get a water bottle and take it with you around campus. Or see if mom and dad will spring for one of those soda makers and make your own sparkling water right in your room. [note: FREE SHIPPING on all Home Soda Maker orders with Promo Code: FREEFIZZ]
- You Are Not A Hobbit: Avoid the fourth meal. That late-nite pizza or mac-and-cheese at midnight? Not a good idea. If you're hungry have a healthy snack (such as low sugar protein bars, fresh fruit, raw nuts, fresh veggies, hot air popcorn, or yogurt) but don't eat a full meal right before bed. You won't sleep well and you'll pack on the pounds.
- Get ZZZZZs: Sleep deprivation affects not only your ability to think straight, it also changes your metabolism and your hormones making it harder for you to make good food choices. Aim for seven or eight hours a night. The occasional all-nighter is going to happen, but try not to make it a habit.
and a bonus tip:
Exercise: Hitting the books means lots of sitting. This sedentary lifestyle can really contribute to weight gain. Remember to stay active. Walk to class if possible, go to the school gym (it's FREE!), or join in some sort of club that encourages physical activity. Keep moving and keep off the pounds.
Other issues which may be challenging include the fact that most, if not all, fast food is highly addictive. The more you eat it the more you want. And because it's so energy dense, meaning a lot of calories/fat/sodium/sugar, it can often lead to weight gain. Learning how to choose nutrient dense foods, or high nutrient foods, is an important part of a healthy college lifestyle. The infographic below may be a great way to share information with your college student, helping them to make better choices.