A typical college student’s diet of beer, chips and pizza is absolutely perfect for causing obesity, heart disease, acne, hair loss, and lack of energy. I’m sure some of you make much better choices than this, but those of you that don’t are headed for disaster if you don’t change your ways. Even if you don’t experience the unpleasant effects of a disastrous diet now, carrying on these habits later in life could be dangerous.
The good news is that it is possible to eat healthy on campus. The new government recommendations advise the consumption of two cups of fruit, two and a half cups of vegetables and three cups of low fat dairy per day, according to http://www.healthierus.gov/nutrition.html . These guidelines also encourage consumption of lean proteins and healthy fats. Thanks to the wide variety of foods offered at the various dining facilities, you can easily meet those recommendations. For those of you that don’t live on campus, quick, cheap and healthy meals can easily be made in a small kitchen.
The Fresh Food Company (Argos Center) For breakfast, your best bet is some fruit and cottage cheese or yogurt with a glass of milk or orange juice. You could also have some hot cereal such as oatmeal or cream of wheat. For lunch and dinner, first stop at the produce section. Try some fresh salad greens with low-fat dressing and maybe a few olives for a healthy fat. The Accents section features some vegetarian and vegan options, which are also delicious and low in fat. But if good ol’ American food is more your style, grab some rotisserie chicken. The Italian section features pasta, and if you select the kind with red sauce rather than Alfredo, you have a good source of carbohydrates. Occasionally, you can go for the slice of pizza or burger, but just remember to grab a piece of fruit for dessert.
The Andros Center is a nutritional nightmare! A minefield of fat, cholesterol and carcinogens. But, if you must, choose fresh fruits, veggies and broth-based soups from the produce section and small portions of other goodies. For a late-night breakfast, choose a couple of eggs or veggie omelets, some oatmeal and fruit. But what are you doing eating at 2a.m. anyway?
The Tampa Room offers an array of labeled low-fat, vegetarian and began choices. Follow the signs to a healthy diet. Choices include salads, sushi, wraps and sandwiches, fresh fruit, and pasta.
Subway also has a series of low-fat options. The low-carbohydrate salads are also good sources of protein, veggies and healthy fat. Another good option is to put the contents of a low-fat sub into the low-carb wrap.
Burger King offers the ugliest salads I have ever seen. Although healthy, I don’t recommend them. Luckily, they also offer a grilled chicken sandwich. Order it without mayonnaise. If you really want a burger and fries, try a kid’s meal with a diet soda.
Starbucks offers a lower-calorie, lower-sugar Frappuccino Lite. It’s a great snack with a little calcium, but do yourself a favor and don’t use this nutritionally empty treat as a meal replacement.
If you’re cooking at home, the easiest, cheapest staples to get are oatmeal, low-fat yogurt, eggs, fresh fruit, salad greens, frozen veggies, chicken breast, whole-wheat pasta, nonstick spray and your favorite condiments. On special occasions, spring for steak or salmon. Here’s what to do with the food you bought:
Make the chicken breast. This is easy. Thaw it out using the microwave’s thaw setting (or by placing it in the refrigerator). Take a skillet. Put some nonstick spray on the skillet. Put it on the stove on medium. Put the chicken in the skillet. Take a spatula and flip the chicken over until both sides are tan. If blood comes out when you put a fork in it, that means it’s not done. Raw chicken tends to cause salmonella.
For those of you whose intelligence and culinary finesse I have insulted, I will continue by offering a few simple suggestions on how present the chicken.
In an omelet with some cooked veggies and mozzarella cheese
In an omelet with salsa and spicy pepper jack cheese
Cut the chicken up in bite-sized pieces before cooking. Prepare with some soy sauce and frozen Japanese veggies and throw them on some cooked ramen noodles or whole-wheat pasta.
Put some spaghetti sauce on the chicken and melt some low-fat mozzarella cheese over it. Voila, chicken parmesan.
Let the cooked chicken cool, cut it in strips and then toss them in salad greens with your favorite low-fat dressing. For an extra twist, add some fresh grape halves or sliced strawberries or apples.
As for the other food items, here are a few more clever suggestions:
Oatmeal and apple or banana slices are a healthy and nutritious breakfast.
Place hard-boiled egg slices in a salad
Egg whites mixed with oatmeal and a little milk make a great pancake mix. Really.
I hope that you will find these suggestions appetizing. Healthy eating can really be quite palatable, not to mention completely feasible, even if you are on campus 24/7 or on a budget. Best of all, studies show that as long as you eat healthy 80-90% of the time, you can still enjoy your pizza and beer (or soda if you’re under 21) on the weekends.