Recommendations for Improvement

There are many actions that college students can take to eat in a healthful way and enjoy their college years without jeopardizing their health from excessive weight gain or weight loss. Among some recommendations are:

  • Get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleeps affects one's ability to concentrate and makes one feel tired. Sleep deprivation also seems to be connected with weight problems.
  • Avoid skipping meals. When a meal is skipped, the subsequent hunger may cause one to overeat.
  • Eat breakfast, which helps concentration and increases the likelihood of consuming calcium, folic acid, and vitamin C. These nutrients are often low in the diet of college students.
  • Manage portion sizes. If portion sizes are underestimated, one may eat more calories than are needed. Also, the availability of a wide variety and mass quantities of "dorm" food (pizza, soda, etc.) may promote overeating and a significant increase of total energy intake.
  • Drink water and eat fruit throughout the day. Water is calorie-free and fruits help manage urges to eat and contribute fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity helps burn off calories, helps manage stress, and promotes mental and physical stamina.
  • Become familiar with the campus environment and the foods that are available. Most colleges and universities have a variety of eateries, each with a different format, theme, and food options.
  • Try the low-calorie, low-fat, and vegetarian options available around campus. As part of a well-planned diet, these items can help manage total energy intake and introduce one to items that can become part of a regular diet.
  • Keep low-fat and low-calorie snacks in the dorm room. This will help manage calorie intake when snacking, especially when eating late at night.

bulimia: uncontrolled episodes of eating (bingeing) usually followed by self-induced vomiting (purging)

body mass index: weight in kilograms divided by square of the height in meters; a measure of body fat overweight: weight above the accepted norm based on height, sex, and age incidence: number of new cases reported each year prevalence: describing the number of cases in a population at any one time amenorrhea: lack of menstruation osteoporosis: weakening of the bone structure environment: surroundings

Most universities offer a variety of meal plans. Students who take the time to acquaint themselves with the various foods available around campus, and who strive for nutritional balance, may find their academic performance improves along with their physical health. [AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced by permission.]

Many universities have required or optional meal plans, which provide access to campus food for a flat rate paid either by semester or academic year. Per meal, these plans are a good value and provide access to a regular food resource. Among the things to consider are the hours the facilities are open, their proximity to student housing and classes, the quality and variety of items, and whether favorite foods are regularly available.

Universities can also take a variety of steps to promote healthful food wellness: related to health promotion behaviors. Campus and residence hall wellness programs can provide stu dents with information and point-of-purchase information at dining halls can help students make on-the-spot decisions that support healthful choices. Education programs for university personnel can help them recognize and properly refer at-risk students.

College students will eat healthful foods if they are available. During the college years, students form a foundation and create eating habits that impact future health, so it is important to practice healthful eating during these years. see also Adult Nutrition; Eating Disorders; Eating Disturbances.

Judith C. Rodriguez

Bibliography

Anding, Jenna D.; Suminski, Richard R.; and Boss, Linda (2000). "Dietary Intake, Body Mass Index, Exercise, and Alcohol: Are College Women Following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?" Journal of American College Health 49:167-171.

Johnston, Carol S.; Solomon, Elizabeth; and Conte, Corinne (1998). "Vitamin C Status of a Campus Population: College Students Get a C Minus." Journal of American College Health 46:209-213.

Schwitser, Alan M.; Bergholz, Kim; Dore, Terri; and Salimi, Lamieh (1998). "Eating Disorders among College Women: Prevention, Education, and Treatment Responses." Journal of American College Health 46(5):199-207.

Selkowitz, Ann (2000). The College Student's Guide to Eating Well on Campus. Bethesda, MD: Tulip Hill Press.

Tavelli, Suzanne; Beerman, Kathy; Shultz, Jill E.; and Heiss, Cindy (1998). "Sources of Error and Nutritional Adequacy of the Food Guide Pyramid." Journal of American College Health 47(2):77-87.

Trockel, Mickey T.; Barnes, Michael D.; and Egget, Dennis L. (2000). "Health Related Variables and Academic Performance among First-Year College Students: Implications for Sleep and Other Behaviors." Journal of American College Health 49(3):125-131.

Internet Resources

Grieger, Lynn. "15 Diet Tips to Beat the 'Freshman 15' (At Any Age!)." Available from <http://www.ivillage.com/diet>

Hobart, Julie A., and Smucker, Douglas R. "The Female Athlete Triad." Available from <http://www.aafp.org>

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