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Healthy Eating for University and College Students

September 6, 2016 by Adrienne Ngai, Registered Dietitian

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Healthy Eating for University and College Students

College and university students are a busy bunch. Juggling classes, assignments, studying, a social life and maybe even a part-time job while managing a tight budget is a definite challenge. Start the school year strong by making healthy eating a priority. It’ll fuel your mind and body to help you with your ‘A’ game, maintain a healthy weight to avoid the ‘Freshman 15’ and keep your body strong to fight off germs.

Test your healthy eating knowledge.

Healthy Eating Pop Quiz!

quiz checkmarkQuestion 1: True or False- Instant noodles fuel the body. They’re good for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacking.
Answer: False. Instant noodles are not the best staple. They are usually high in sodium and fat and low in nutrients.

Instead, plan your daily meals and snacks using foods from each of the food groups in Canada’s Food Guide. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Aim for three meals each day and choose foods from three to four of the food groups at each meal
  • Use Health Canada’s Eat Well Plate to build a healthy meal. Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit and add smaller portions of grain products and meat and alternatives. Include a milk and alternative to complete your meal.
  • If you’re hungry between meals, have a snack from at least two of the food groups. Try a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit or a slice of whole grain bread and peanut butter.
  • Click here to read more about balanced eating.

quiz checkmark Q2Question 2: True or False- A great way to stay alert and hydrated is to replace water with coffee, tea and energy drinks.
Answer: False. Although caffeine can make you feel alert and awake, having too much can cause jitteriness, nervousness, anxiety, gastrointestinal upset, rapid heartbeat and insomnia.

Drink water with meals and regularly throughout the day. It's a calorie and sugar free way to keep hydrated. Good hydration will help you feel energetic and alert. Click here to find out daily caffeine limits.

Speciality coffees and teas (like frappes, mochas, lattes or sweetened teas) and energy drinks are sugary drinks. Most sugary drinks provide little or no nutrition and take the place of healthier choices like water and plain milk.

Make sure you get enough sleep, stay organized and make a timeline to study and complete assignments to help reduce stress and keep the amount of caffeinated beverages you drink down.

quiz checkmark Q3Question 3: True or False- It’s ok to eat only one meal a day. Skipping meals is a good way to save money.
Answer: False. Skipping meals can result in reaching for less healthy and overpriced convenience foods to satisfy your hunger.

Pack a healthy snack or meal to take with you when you’re on the go. Don’t forget to pack a reusable water bottle too. Schools have water stations or fountains where you can fill up – another freebie.

quiz checkmark Q4Question 4: True or False- Eating while studying, watching TV or surfing the internet is efficient and saves time.
Answer: False. Though multitasking can be efficient, eating while distracted can lead to mindless eating and weight gain.

Make time to enjoy your meals and listen to your body’s cues for hunger. Prevent overeating by taking walk breaks while studying, drinking water to stay hydrated and limiting snacking while surfing the internet or watching TV.

quiz checkmark Q5Question 5: True or False- Cooking is something my parents would do, I don’t have the time and it takes too much effort.
Answer: False. When you cook, you know exactly what goes into your food and you also benefit from improving your culinary skills (trust me, it will come in handy later!).

Plus, you are saving money- the cost of one meal out can pay for multiple homecooked meals. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Build your meals around sale items. Download a free smartphone app to search for flyer deals and coupons for your local grocery store.
  • Turn cooking in to a fun, regular activity to do with friends. Research your favourite recipes or try something completely new! You can host iron chef competitions to make cooking more exciting.
  • Prepare extra servings, so you can eat left-overs the next day.
  • Visit Cookspiration or download their app for healthy and delicious recipes. Also check out these healthy, no-cook, low-cost food and meal ideas to get you started.

How did you do in the pop quiz?

To learn more about healthy living, including meal planning and shopping, download the free Carrot Rewards app. You can complete quizzes and earn points towards movies (Scene points!), groceries (More Rewards points), gas (Petro-Points) or travel (Aeroplan points). I’ve already earned a free movie ticket.

Also check out your college or university’s student health centre. Many campuses offer free nutrition seminars or resources that can help you with healthy eating and meal planning.

If you have questions about healthy eating on campus call 8-1-1 (toll free) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday to speak with a registered dietitian at HealthLink BC, or send an email.


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Brain Boost Snack Ideas for Work
Shopping Sense
Sugary Drinks Sense  
Sugary Drinks and Your Health
What to Sip and Which to Skip
Healthy Foods that Don’t Need to be Cooked
Simple No-Cook Meals: a 3 Day Plan

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Cookspiration

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