Healthy Habits for College Students: Your Guide to Better Nutrition, Without Giving Up the Midnight Munchies05/11/2010
Despite the national initiative to eat better and cleaner, the stereotype of the pizza-gnawing, beer-guzzling college student still exists. And it’s not just because all college students are irresponsible or don’t care about their health or their weight. There are lots of factors working against you, students, when it comes to proper nutrition. Most young kids spend all week waiting for pizza night, and when you get to college, you’re allowed to eat it every night if you want. Also, college kids are on tight budgets and opt for fast food and frozen meals when they spend their own money off campus. Finally, students have little control over what they eat in the dining hall: if their school hasn’t stepped up and offered them a healthy, well-balanced meal plan, they still have to eat whatever is served in front of them.
But just because you face nutrition obstacles every day as a college student doesn’t mean you have to accept weight gain, health problems, bad skin, and low energy as a necessary part of your college experience. Below are several simple tips for winning back some of the control over the fight for your wellbeing.
Get enough sleep: Weird sleep schedules can contribute to even weirder cravings and weight gain. Think about it: the longer you stay up at night, the more you’re likely to eat. Doctors also believe that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain.
Keep a food journal: You don’t have to share it with anyone, so be as honest as you can by writing down every single snack, meal and beverage you eat or drink for one week. Writing it all down will help you discover which food groups you’re ignoring and which times of day you’re more likely to overindulge.
Pay attention to your emotions when you eat: Are you eating because you’re tired, stressed or sad? What kinds of foods to you eat when you feel happy vs. anxious? Identifying your food habits will also help you make proactive, healthier choices.
Only keep healthy snacks in your dorm room: If it’s inconvenient to find ice cream, you’ll be more likely to eat the whole-grain cereal or banana that’s already in your room. Empty out your refrigerator of the junk and keep good food stocked.
Stay nourished all day: You’re more likely to give into cravings if you go too long without food. Keep healthy snacks like fruit, yogurt and nuts in your book bag so that you can keep your mind and body nourished between meals. Always make time for breakfast, too.
Still confused about what to eat? Keep reading for healthy snack ideas when you get the midnight munchies, as well as smarter dining hall choices you can make.
- Skim-milk string cheese: Great for mindless snacking, since you can pull apart the cheese as you study.
- Go for grilled: Instead of fried chicken or fish, opt for the grilled version.
- Get a side salad or side of veggies with lunch and dinner: Eat the veggies first, and limit dressing to a couple of tablespoons of light dressing or vinaigrette dressing.
- Peanut butter: It’s great comfort food and contains good fats and protein. Just make sure you spread it on fruit, crackers or whole wheat bread and don’t eat it out of the jar.
- Fruits and veggies: Grapes, baby carrots, watermelon and cherry tomatoes are great study snacks that are low in calories and good for your energy and overall health.
Previous research has shown that women who eat more whole grains are less likely to develop high blood pressure. But the impact of whole grains on men’s blood pressure was unknown.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (September 2009) followed over 31, 000 men for 18 years. Men with the highest daily whole grain consumption were 19% less likely to develop high blood pressure versus men who ate the least amount of whole grains. The lower blood pressures were found regardless of weight, physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake.
So whole grains can help control blood pressure in both women and men. The current dietary guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 3 ounces or 85 grams of whole grains daily. Whole grains are richer in nutrients because they retain their bran and germ unlike refined grains.
“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their blood pressure, cholesterol and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes. “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit www.heart-strong.com
November is American Diabetes Month, devoted to increasing awareness about diabetes and educating people about the prevention and treatment of diabetes. We all need to pay attention to this increasing epidemic.
Some alarming facts about diabetes:
1 in 3 American children born this year will develop diabetes if they follow the typical American diet and lifestyle.
Every 20 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes is the #1 cause of blindness in adults.
Diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for heart disease and stroke in both men and women. Adults with diabetes are at a 2 to 6 times higher risk of having a heart attack.
The American Diabetes Association has just released some great new educational videos covering a multitude of diabetes lifestyle and management tips. Go to www.libertymedical.com to view free.
Also during the month of November help get the message out there to both adults and kids about the risks associated with diabetes, prevention tips and the importance of appropriate management.
Why should you get involved? Someone you know either has diabetes or is at risk to develop diabetes (maybe even you).
Two of the most important things to do to prevent diabetes:
1) Maintain a healthy weight AND waist (men’s waist circumference should be less than 40 inches and women’s waist circumference should be less than 35 inches)
2) Get a moderate amount of exercise daily
“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can control their risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Also include info for women with diabetes – how to control your risk factors to prevent heart disease.
“Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit www.heart-strong.com
Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. The prevalence of heart disease varies among ethnic groups. Immigrants from India (South Asia) have a four times greater risk of developing heart disease than other Americans. Indians are also more likely to develop premature heart disease, have heart attacks at an earlier age and develop diffuse disease due to a genetic predisposition and a multitude of lifestyle risk factors. This includes both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
Genetic risk factors include: high lipoprotein (a) levels, elevated triglyceride levels and lower levels of less protective HDL (healthy) cholesterol. Indians are also more prone to have abdominal obesity, diabetes, sedentary lifestyles and diets high in fat and starches which can increase the risk of developing heart disease. The traditional Indian diet includes deep-fried foods (re-use of vegetable oil when cooking), coconut milk, roti, naan and other white breads, white rice, paneer (cheese), whole milk and high fat yogurt.
Even though Indians have a strong genetic risk for heart disease they can lower their risk by making healthy lifestyle changes.
Below are some tips that may help reduce the risk of heart disease:
- Avoid deep frying, try to broil, bake, steam instead
- Use low fat milk and dairy products
- Increase fruit and vegetable and fiber intake
- Use olive oil or canola oil, do not re-use cooking oil
- Avoid ghee (clarified butter)
- Increase intake of fish, nuts
- Decrease intake of starches like white rice, roti, white potatoes and naan
- Avoid eating all or majority of carbohydrates at one meal, do not skip meals
- Increase activity level (walking 30 minutes a day counts as exercise)
- Weight loss (lose abdominal fat, waist circumference goal men <36 inches, women <32 inches)
Lipoprotein (a) is a sub-class of LDL (Bad) cholesterol, when levels are elevated in the blood the risk for heart disease and stroke are increased. Elevated lipoprotein (a) levels are associated with premature heart disease and have little to do with diet or lifestyle, they are usually hereditary. All Indians/South Asians should have a lipoprotein (a) level checked at least once in their lifetime, preferably when they are younger since it is a marker of premature heart disease.
“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their cholesterol and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes. “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit www.heart-strong.com