Good nutrition — even in the school cafeteria

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UAlbany’s cafeteria.

By Nate Villano
Campus News

Before you open up that package up of Ramen or crack that can of soda, you might want to reconsider. Soft drinks and microwavable foods are a hot commodity among college students living in the dormitories. These snacks are great if you’re in a pinch and want something quick; however if you take a look at their caloric content you may change your mind.

Soft drinks are one of the number one culprits in calorie consumption. By just replacing each glass of soda with a glass of water you can significantly cut down your caloric intake. According to a study done by sugarstacks.com, one can of Coca-Cola has about 39 grams of sugar. That’s the equivalent to 10 sugar cubes, yikes! If you are not a fan of just plain water, try adding a few slices of your favorite fruit or vegetable. Not only will it add flavor to your water, but it’s also an easy way to get extra vitamins and minerals.

Who could forget fruits? The classic and healthy alternative, that provides sustained energy throughout the day. “I like to eat bananas for the potassium, and apples for the ursolic acid, which helps build muscle,” said David a sophomore at the University at Albany. Not only do they provide nourishment but also they’re great for curbing an appetite when you’re bored. It’s just how the old saying goes: “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.”

Raw vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals; just make sure you wash them off before you eat them. If eating them raw is not your forte, try dipping them in your favorite dressing. If you have a long day ahead of you, fill up a small sandwich bag of your favorite vegetables and toss them in your bag. You’ll be surprised how much energy they can provide you throughout the day. “I like to eat raw vegetables, as I feel like they tend to lose their natural crunch when cooked,” said Dan Bellick a junior at the University at Albany.

Ramen Noodles are a very popular snack in the college community. The only problem with them however, is their high sodium content. If you’re looking for a soup alternative check out Campbell’s line of low sodium soup. The same great taste you’ve come to know and expect, but with a lower sodium content.

If you don’t mind the extra expense, try and invest in a blender. Blenders are great for making vitamin-enriched smoothies. All you need are” your favorite fruits, juice, one or two of your favorite vegetables, some ice, and of course a blender. However you want to switch it up, the Internet can provide you with a list of smoothie recipes. Making smoothies can help fill your stomach up and keep you feeling full throughout the day.

Fruit slices are another alternative, and with a little bit of peanut butter you can have a great tasting snack in a matter of minutes. With a knife, carefully cut your fruit of choice into slices and apply a thin layer of peanut butter. Not only is your body absorbing the nutrient from the fruits, but also peanut butter is a good source of protein. This is ideal for those who like to snack late at night, and would like to avoid the guilt trip of eating greasy foods before bed.

Let’s not forget about oatmeal. It is an easy snack and can be made in just a matter of minutes. If plain old oatmeal doesn’t do it for you, and you’re feeling a little daring, try sprinkling on cinnamon or a little bit of brown sugar. Oatmeal expands in the stomach, keeping you full for an extended period of time. This is especially helpful for students, who have classes early in the morning and throughout the day.

Some people might remember string cheese as an all time favorite snack when they were a kid. If you weren’t aware though not only are they still great to snack on, but also they can be nutritionally beneficial. Mozzarella sticks (part skim) are a great alternative. Small enough to conveniently put into a purse or backpack and they’re only 80 calories a stick, curbing your appetite, and keeping you away from those empty calorie snacks.

Yogurt is another handy snack you might want to keep stocked in your fridge. A study done by Fitness Magazine says that yogurt is not only healthy, but provides many secondary benefits. According to their study, yogurt can help you acquire flatter abs; it contains probiotics, bacteria that can provide digestive benefits; and yogurt is a great source of vitamins and minerals. “I like yogurt, Greek yogurt is my favorite,” said Nicole Klohmann a sophomore at the University at Albany. “I like to add fruit, almonds, or both.”

Looking to replace that bag of greasy potato chips? Keep an eye out for Blue Diamond 100-calorie packs of almonds. According to livescience.com, a study done by researchers analyzed the feces and urine (gross!) of people who ate different amounts of nuts. Their study showed, that the more nuts people ate, the more fat that was excreted out of the body; and if there is one thing everybody loves, it’s easy ways to lose fat.

Perhaps it’s movie night in the suite and you want popcorn, but you don’t want all that salt and butter. Try making yourself air popped popcorn; air popped pop corn is regular popcorn, but without the extra unhealthy additives such as butter and salt. Take a trip down to your local Walmart and for about $5 you can pick up a jar of popcorn kernels. All you need is a microwave, a lunch bag, and a handful of kernels. Put them in the bag, fold it closed and put it in the microwave for about two minutes and 15 seconds; and viola, you now have healthy serving of popcorn.

Following these guidelines, you can easily keep up a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to be in the know and keep tabs on what you’re eating. It’s not to say that you have to give up eating instant macaroni and cheese or Ramen Noodles. However keep in mind the phrase, “everything in moderation.”

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