While maintaining a balanced diet may seem like a pipe dream for students forced to eat in the dining halls, Alexa Schmidt, a registered dietitian, suggested a few simple steps to turn this feat into a reality.
Schmidt said that college students are eating upside down, and that students eat too little in the morning for breakfast but have big meals at night.
“I think on a college campus that often students are so busy that they wake up and don’t have time,” she said. “They skip breakfast and by dinnertime they are starving and then they are snacking all night long. This really is the opposite way of how the body should be fed.”
According to Schmidt, students should eat three to four food groups in each meal. This consists of half vegetables with some fruit, a fourth of grains and a fourth of protein.
“It all comes down to balance and fueling the body early, often and consistently,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt also said that a balanced diet consists of 46 to 65 percent carbohydrates, 10 to 35 percent protein and 20 to 35 percent fat. She emphasized the nutritional value of protein because it stabilizes blood sugar levels.
She also presented attendees with healthy alternative meals that can be found in the residential dining halls, suggesting food substitutions such as eating a Luna bar instead of a Nutri-Grain bar or a bagel with turkey instead of a bagel with cream cheese.
“This is very realistic for college students as far as how we can make a meal plan for optimal metabolism based on what we have on campus,” said Alexa Lippman, a senior majoring in human development.
Schmidt advocated against skipping meals because it reduces metabolism by 10 percent. To help students gauge hunger, she suggested the Hunger Scale, which helps guide eating. It ranges from zero to 10; zero being starving, and 10 being full. Schmidt encourages students to stay between 4 and 7.
Students attendees had mixed reactions to the presentation. David Gueli, a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said he would have enjoyed if the presentation expanded beyond dietary habits.
“I was hoping that she would speak a little bit more about exercise as opposed to just nutrition, but I enjoyed the material I learned,” he said.
Daphne Lee, a junior majoring in biology, agreed with Schmidt’s points on students’ dietary schedule.
“College students don’t have enough energy during the day time and that’s why we nap all the time, so I think that eating more during the day when we need the energy is definitely a good idea,” she said.
Schmidt invited attendees to meet with her for lunch at one of the dining halls to discuss healthy eating.
“I think its important for people to stop and think if they just do these small things, they can really feel better have more energy, increase their concentration, increase their overall metabolism and have overall health benefits from it,” Schmidt said.
“Meal Planning for Optimal Health” is the second installment of a series of three health presentations sponsored by Sodexo and the Eating Awareness Committee.