Healthy eating and the way we fuel our bodies is an important element of our overall wellness. Nutritious foods and healthy eating behaviors help us to be at our best by giving us energy and stabilizing our mood. However, as students constantly tasked with balancing busy schedules and priorities, it can be difficult to make healthy nutritional choices.
The importance of sound nutrition and healthy eating habits are illustrated by the fact that persons who skip breakfast (or other meals) are more likely to perform poorly on tests, and to struggle with retaining information/memory retention. This is especially problematic for hardworking students!
So how does one make healthy eating and dining choices at USD? Try making sure that at least 80% of your food choices are comprised of the following: whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread), fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein (chicken breast, beans, lentils, tofu, cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt), fatty fish (salmon) and plant based fats (ex: nuts, seeds, olive oil). Here are just a few easy options, all of them available in the SLP!
Breakfast (provide some fuel for your brain first thing in the morning!)
- Egg white omelet with cheese, veggies
- Whole wheat toast
- Cottage cheese sundae with granola
- Fresh fruit
Lunch (try not to let your energy dip mid-day by enjoying something tasty!)
- Grilled Mahi fish tacos with steamed, grilled or raw veggies from salad bar
- Mediterranean flatbread (made with whole wheat crust and low fat cheese) & fruit salad
- Burrito bowl with brown rice, baked chicken, baked fish (non- breaded/fried) or tofu, black beans, bell pepper, onions, salsa
- Sushi (non-breaded or fried) & edamame
Dinner (remember to give your body and mind some love after a full day of activity!)
- Tofu curry with brown rice and grilled/steamed vegetables
- Turkey and avocado club sandwich on whole wheat bread and a green salad with vinaigrette dressing
- Pho with vegetables, chicken or tofu
Also good to know about the SLP:
Egg whites, brown rice, baked chicken or fish, and tofu are always available. There is always a vegetarian grain-based salad, with protein, on the salad bar for lunch.
You are always welcome to bring veggies from the salad bar to the grill to complement your entrée. Vegan and vegetarian grab and go meals are available in the drink cooler by Tapenade. Gluten free pasta, breads, muffins, pizza dough, tortillas, and buns are always available. The menu changes daily…be on the lookout for specials and new items!
Do you have a meal plan but also deal with a food allergy or intolerance? Are you gluten free or lactose intolerant? Not to worry!
Look for these symbols on your favorite treats at Tu Mercado, Pavillion Dining and Missions Cafe. There are options for you! Additionally, if you have questions, ask any of the chefs! They are well equipped to answer questions and help you navigate the dining facilities.
Healthy Weight Maintenance: The Truth and Consequences of Dieting
Dieting is restricting oneself to certain foods or limiting calorie intake in order to lose weight. Typically, dieting begins with dissatisfaction regarding one’s body shape or size, which leads to the decision to alter their shape or weight. Further, the majority of ‘fad’ diets are not based on sound science, but are motivated by potential for profit.
Many dieters end up denying their body a balance of essential nutrients and the calories it needs to maximize functioning. Research has proven that diets don’t work in terms of helping people achieve and maintain a healthy weight- in fact, 95% of people who diet regain the lost weight, with nearly half of those people gaining back more weight than they’d initially lost.
Dieters often experience physical symptoms such as decreased muscular strength and endurance, loss of coordination, dehydration, constipation, fainting, weakness, difficulty sleeping, hair loss and slowed heart rates. Dieting can also be accompanied by mental consequences, such as increased anxiety, obsessive and depressive thoughts.
Restricting caloric intake results in decreased energy, which negatively impacts brainpower. Lastly, preoccupations with weight, body shape, calories, and food can heighten body dissatisfaction, making the individual more susceptible to developing an eating disorder.
So how do you maintain health and the right weight for your body without dieting? A positive, non-diet approach to weight management is “Intuitive Eating.” An intuitive eater chooses food without judgment, shame or guilt.
There are no good or bad foods….rather, food is medicine, and we move toward foods that energize and stabilize us and make us feel well, but we also give consideration to the enjoyment factor and true preferences (versus eating only what we think we ‘should’ eat). Intuitive eaters are attuned at listening and responding organically to hunger and fullness cues.
Intuitive Eating can be described as follows (Adapted from The Center for Mindful Eating):
- Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.
- Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.
- Acknowledging responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment.
- Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.
Remember that everyBODY is different, and we are not all built to achieve a certain weight and shape. Intuitive eating rejects the diet mentality, and honors our diversity and genetics. This grants us the freedom to focus on TRUE health and healthy eating versus the pursuit of thinness. Here are some additional tips for achieving or maintaining the best weight for your body:
- Eat a balanced breakfast daily, and follow through with meals every few hours (3-5) by responding to subtle hunger cues
- Make sure that meals contain adequate amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrate. We need all three to function well and to feel stable throughout the day
- Stay hydrated with water and other decaf fluids (needs generally range from 2-3L/day, but everyone is different)
- Eat moderate portions 4-6 times per day that are somewhat comparable in size (listen to hunger and fullness cues). Avoid having only 1-2 large meals, for example
- Incorporate variety by making sure meals are colorful and contain at least 3-4 different foods or food groups (for example, not all brown and tan, and not all green)
- Make sure fruit and veggies are present throughout the day (for example, make sure fruit or veggies occupy half of your plate at each meal)
- Keep balanced snacks on hand or in your room to have between meals and classes. A few examples include fruit and nut butters, nuts, trail mix, plain Greek yogurt and fruit, avocado on multigrain crackers or bread, and veggies with hummus
- Manage stress without turning to food. Be aware of times where you may be eating “emotionally”, or using food as a reward or punishment
- Notice times where you may eat when not hungry, and ask yourself what your body may really be asking for. Are you tired and would rest be more appropriate? Are you dehydrated? Are you stressed and in need of social support or more time with friends and loved ones?
Thoughts about our body size or weight, shape, and appearance and the decision to diet can often be tied in many ways to our mental health. Take this anonymous survey to check-in on your mental health.
Counseling Center: If you would like to speak with someone confidentially about a health concern, feel that your eating or relationship with food may be unhealthy, or are concerned about a friend, please get in touch with us! The Counseling Center is a confidential resource open Monday – Friday 8:30am-5pm, with extended hours until 6pm on Wednesday during fall and spring semesters.
The easiest way to secure an initial consultation is by making a same- or next-day appointment via the Wellness Portal. Students can also call or come by the Counseling Center to arrange for an appointment.
Additional resources include:
Student Health Center
Maher Hall 140
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm
Center for Health and Wellness Promotion
University Center 161
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am- 5:00pm