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College. It’s a major milestone in life. My own son is starting this adventure, as a freshman this year, and it got me thinking. Sure I’ll worry about his classes and where he’ll be living, but I’m also worried he won’t take his nutrition seriously. What happens when I’m no longer making sure he makes good food choices?
I’ve been watching kids pack up and leave home with everything they need to outﬁt their dorm, but not the skills they need to feed themselves. With a little planning ahead, students can avoid the dreaded “Freshman 15” and maximize their potential, mentally and physically with the proper diet.
If you’re heading oﬀ to campus this fall, avoid the temptations to ﬁll up on junk foods and sugary caﬀeinated drinks and instead look for healthy carbohydrates, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans, to keep the mind and body functioning at their peak.
If you’re on a meal plan, take advantage of the healthy options available on campus. Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed college and university campuses stepping up to the plate and oﬀering a great variety of whole grain options for every meal, at the salad bar, sandwich counter and dining hall. Many of these schools are using our Menu Symbol to identify whole grains on the menu, but don’t be afraid to ask!
If you’re living oﬀ-campus, you need to strategize. It doesn’t have to be diﬃcult; just think quick, easy and budget-friendly, like instant oatmeal, minute brown rice and granola bars. Buy these items in bulk and stock up, so you’ll always have a healthy selection of foods that fuel without straining the wallet. The University of New Hampshire’s Health Services oﬀers a helpful website called Good Eats (co-authored by our own Cynthia Harriman) that oﬀers easy recipes and nutrition tips for oﬀ-campus survival.
If your class schedule keeps you going all day with little or no time for meals, a little pre-planning is all you need. Pack your backpack with healthy snacks, like a bag of whole grain cereal, fruit and nut granola bars, and whole grain crackers, so you have brain food at your ﬁngertips and can refuel throughout your day. This gives you total control over the quality of the foods you are eating and prevents less healthy alternatives that might tempt otherwise.
I’m hoping my son reads this blog – and that your college-bound kid does too. Sometimes websites and blogs have more credibility than Moms do. And remember, even though you can’t be there at every meal, you can always send Care packages with whole grain snacks to ﬁll the gaps. (Karen)