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Healthy Dining Hall Eating

Good Intentions

Maybe you started out with healthy goals at dinnertime: some steamed vegetables with your lasagna, a heaping bowl of greens from the salad bar. But as you headed to a table, the fries caught your eye. Then you decided you'd better hit the desserts now, because who knows what will be left when you're done with dinner?

Sound familiar? You're away at college, and your parents are no longer looking over your shoulder to make sure you eat your vegetables. This and many other new freedoms might feel great. But they may not be good news for your body.

While many students stock up on fruits and vegetables in the dining hall, others fill their trays with things they like without paying much attention to what their bodies need. Even people with the best intentions can sometimes find it difficult to resist the less-healthy options.

Your waistline's not the only thing at stake. The foods you choose affect your energy, concentration, and memory, because your body and brain need the right nutrition to function properly.

So before you reach for a soda or another slice of pizza, remember that smart choices from the different food groups will help you feel your best.

What Does Your Body Need?

Nutritional requirements vary from person to person, depending on age, sex, size, level of activity, and other factors. For specific recommendations suited to your needs, talk to a doctor, registered dietitian, or your student health office or nutritional counselor at your university.

Nutrition experts recommend a balanced diet that includes:

  • whole grains
  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • lean meats, fish and other healthy sources of protein
  • low-fat or nonfat dairy

Watch out for snack foods that tend to be high in sugar, fats, and calories. They should only play a small role in your overall diet.

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