One of the biggest problems college students face on campus is learning how to eat healthy and maintain a nutritious diet. Going through the adjustment of leaving home and no longer having home-cooked meals and having to eat at the school’s dining is very difficult change.

College students struggle with making the right choices, and the root of this problem is a lack of nutritional education. I, for myself, can attest to this problem. After attending a dinner with Fairfield’s dietician Beth Winthrop, I learned a great amount of information about how to stay healthy on campus and some nutritional guidelines. For those that were unable to attend the dinner, I am looking to share this information with the student body.

Breakfast is the most common meal that people skip. This is usually due to a lack of time or hunger and for a college student, a conflict with having class during this time. Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day, and it should really be your largest meal.

Lunch should be a smaller meal and dinner should be your smallest meal. Having breakfast provides your body with the energy it needs for the day and starts up your metabolism. Students that do not eat breakfast often feel tired during class and have trouble focusing.

What should you eat for breakfast? Your breakfast should consist of some form of protein, such as eggs, whole grain carbs and, as with every meal, many fruits and vegetables. The Main Dining Hall gives students the option of making their own eggs at the stir-fry station or having the chef make it for them at the omelet bar.

Dining in Barone can be challenging when it comes to portion control, given that students can eat all that they want with one swipe. Though controlling your portions can be difficult, it is important to go by the half plate rule. This rule states that half of your plate should be loaded with fruits and vegetables. A fourth should be whole grains and the final fourth should be a protein.

Students should really limit the temptation of eating seconds because this can often lead to overeating. It is important to keep a proper balance with each meal to make sure your body is getting the nutrition it needs.

When making a salad at the salad bar, try and make your salad as colorful as it can be. Add toppings such as peppers, carrots, corn, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes and green beans to fulfill your body’s need for vegetables. It can add flavor to your salad, along with providing nutrition.

Mindful Mix, a wellness tool often seen next to entrées, provide students with a portion of food that is more nutritious. Mindful Mix gives the breakdown of the ingredients in the entrée, along with the nutrition facts.

Eating well and being nutritious is determined by choices you make. It is easy, and somewhat tempting, to make bad choices. But in reality, the good choices are just as available to you.

Some of these little changes include swapping white bread for a whole grain bread, cutting back on toppings such as cheese and mayonnaise which have a lot of fat and instead opting for mustard, which has little calories and is fat free. Choose healthier proteins that will give your body greater satisfaction such as grilled chicken, turkey burgers and veggie burgers, as opposed to a cheeseburger. Switch to skim milk or fat-free milk as opposed to whole milk. Limit the amount of sodium intake, which can be found in certain soups and bread.

Finally, when thirsty, drink water! Students often opt for sugary drinks which just add calories and drinks with a lot of caffeine, such as coffee, to keep them awake. Water is the healthiest option and is what your body needs the most. Also, stimulants in coffee can keep you awake at night, which can lead to lack of sleep that makes hungrier.

Nutrition and wellness on a college campus can be difficult for students, but ultimately, it is possible. Healthy options are available as much as there are unhealthy options. It is up to you to make the right choices for yourself that provides your body with the nutrition it needs.

Be creative: I know it can be difficult when you are pressed for time, but do not be afraid to use the stir-fry station. It can be a very helpful nutrition tool and you can create delicious, healthy meals if there is nothing you like being served that day.

Like anything else worthwhile, nutrition is something you have to work at, and it may not be easy, but it’s worth it. The freshman 15 is a real thing. I experienced it myself, and after learning about the healthy options there are at Barone, this year I have completely changed my eating habits. You can be just as healthy as you are at home in college.

Fairfield provides you with the tools you need to live a healthy lifestyle, but it is up to you to utilize the resources correctly.

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