Student 101: Smart eating leads to smart students

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 Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

Professor advises eating whole foods and monitoring calories.

By Valerie Champion

With the new semester fully underway, students may be feeling the effects a busy schedule has on their time for preparing healthful meals.

Interpreting sophomore Bill Jennings said even though he is a full-time student and work-study, he tries to eat three square meals a day.

“It can be difficult,” he said. He tries to avoid eating on campus because it can be expensive.

Nutrition Professor Shelly Sheppard recommends tailoring a meal plan to fit individual needs. She encourages students to determine their daily calorie needs and  track what they’re eating. Students can go online and find a recommended daily calorie intake based on their age, activity level and gender.

Sheppard recommends using apps such as MyFitnessPal and Lose It!, or devices such as the Fitbit, to track their calorie intakes and try to plan future meals according to their daily calorie needs.

“There’s no plan that fits all people,” Sheppard said. Students with a hectic schedule don’t need to have three meals a day, as long as their daily calorie intake is consistent. Sheppard said smart snacking is always an option.

“You have to focus on whole foods,” she said, “Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cheese, yogurt … anything whole. You want to eliminate processed foods.”

Students may wonder how they can afford to eat whole foods as opposed to readily available processed ones. Sheppard said shopping for seasonal produce is more affordable.

She said, it would be unwise to buy watermelon in the winter. In fall, produce such as beets, cauliflower, apples, bananas and squash are all in season.

She also recommended buying whole foods in bulk, cooking them and freezing meals for later. Students may buy fresh fruit when it’s in season and freeze it for smoothies. Sheppard said buying fresh tomatoes, cooking sauce and freezing it can stretch ingredients for other meals, saving money and preparation time.

Despite that preparation, students might still go out to eat sometimes. Sheppard said fast-food restaurants must provide calorie counts, and eating healthy can be as simple as avoiding fried food in favor of grilled options and plant-based foods like salads and vegetable sides.

“You have to know how to navigate the menu,” she said.


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