5 Tips for Healthful Eating

In the words of Billy Joel, “Slow down, you crazy child. You’re so ambitious for a juvenile…”

I can hardly believe that midterms are approaching this week. Where did the time go? After all, this is my senior year and I continue to work towards getting  my bachelor’s degree in community nutrition. Maybe that explains a lot. In fact, everything! Besides attending classes, studying, working as a resident assistant, applying to graduate school, shadowing, volunteering and trying to keep my sanity, the cherry on top is my supervised practice in community nutrition.

Over the course of this semester, I have been privileged to work with Dustin Frize, dietitian and implementer of Guiding Stars for dining services at the University of North Dakota. Dustin’s vision this fall was to directly impact students living on campus in regards to healthy eating. This is where I have stepped in.

Let me introduce you to Nutrition Connect—connecting the dots to lifelong nutrition.
The goal of the program is to help college students build the foundational skills needed to maintain a healthy diet both today and for the rest of their lives. Four strategies that are taught include MyPlate, portion control, Guiding Stars and reading nutrition labels.

This past week, students attending the program were asked, “What prevents you from eating a healthy diet?” The general trend was that “time restraints” got in their way of making smart food decisions. I can definitely relate. In fact, before the presentation that night, time was lagging, and that’s when I managed to shovel down… let’s just say way too much food… without even realizing it. And to make matters worse, it wasn’t the healthy stuff (loaded with stars, that is) I quickly packed away either. Instead, it was the fast and convenient foods (with absolutely no stars) that left me feeling sluggish and quite disappointed in myself. Here I was about to give a presentation on healthy eating, and yet I too had fallen into the “time restraint” trap.

Clock / Chris Vick / CC BY 2.0

Let’s face it: we are all busy. Guiding Stars, nutrition professionals and MyPlate.gov stress the importance of slowing down when eating meals. They say this can help you enjoy your food, eat less and make smarter food decisions. It sounds good, but let’s be honest: how can we do that when we are so busy? After falling into the “time restraint” trap that night, I made it my goal to come up with the following five easy tips to help both you and I eat more healthfully.

Tip 1: Plan time for meals. Your student planner can be useful for more than just classes, assignments, or test. Try planning out your meals. Sit down, instead of eating on the run.

Tip 2: Savor your food. Enjoy smells, tastes, and textures. Eliminate distractions such as the TV or computer that can prevent you from enjoying your food.

Tip 3: Eat slowly. Try taking smaller bites. Put your utensils down between each bite or take a sip of water. Eat with your friends or family.

Tip 4: Pay attention to how you feel. Emotions, lack of sleep, boredom and other factors can influence how much you eat. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s full.

Tip 5: Follow the stars. Remember, you can’t go wrong when your plate is filled with Guiding Stars. Use the cards in the dining centers or grocery stores to lead you to healthful foods.

I just looked in my planner and saw that I have dinner plans with a friend at six! I better get going so that I have plenty of time to follow my own tips towards healthful eating. Until next time…