JENNA HOGAN, MPH, RD: For many, college is the first experience to living life on their own without direct parental control. You choose what to have for dinner, you choose what time to come home at night, you choose whether or not to attend class, and so on. This sudden freedom to make our own decisions can be so riveting that it can be tempting to make the wrong decisions, if not careful.
Popcorn for dinner and pizza for a late night snack, for example, is a wrong decision. (Mother would never have allowed it!) However, just as you would not expect getting a 100% on every paper or test you write or take, you should not expect to eat healthy 100% of the time. But, if you want an A in the class you have to put forth the effort, and if you want a healthy body to reduce your risk of health problems, you have to make the effort to choose the right decision more often than not.
The right decision starts with breakfast. It will help you concentrate better in classes and should not be skipped. Make it a point to wake up early enough to grab something nutritious. If you don't have time to go to the cafeteria, you can fix a healthy breakfast right in your apartment or dorm room. Make an omelet in the microwave or have peanut butter on whole-wheat toast or an English muffin. Add yogurt or fruit and low fat milk to gain even more nutrients without many calories.
The cafeteria does not have to be avoided. There are healthy options that exist; you just have to know what they are and have the willpower to avoid the not so healthy options. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask if it can be grilled instead of fried, if they can use whole wheat bread instead of white, if they can leave off the sauces and gravies, etc.
These tips and more will be discussed for Health Awareness Week at the University of Illinois Springfield. "The Choice is Yours: Serving up Nutrition Tips for Campus Living" will be presented at 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 8, at the University of Illinois Springfield campus in the Public Affairs Center (PAC) conference room C as part of the university's Health Awareness Week.
Click here for more information for events and other speakers during UIS Health Awareness Week.