Back to School Nutrition: Scheduling Snacks and Managing Meals During The First Few Weeks of School

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Published September 3, 2015
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The Montclarion
Photo Credit: Take Back Your Health Conference (flickr)
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

With a new school year comes a new change in your eating habits and lifestyle if you are living on campus. It can be hard, but it is possible to make good choices and maintain your health. Eating in a dining hall and being restricted to a meal plan can be one major factor, in addition to class times that tend to run right through your normal meal times. Plan ahead and use these tips to avoid developing any unhealthy habits that could only get worse as the school year and stress progress.
     Stick to your normal eating pattern. Although classes may change the time of your eating schedule if you are in a class such as a lab, where you cannot eat, you can still eat the same amount of times throughout the day that you are used to. As long as your normal eating habits are keeping you healthy, it is best to stay away from drastic changes that may lead to negative effects on your body and mind.  If you eat three solid meals a day and feel healthy doing so, do the same at school. If you have to eat at different times than you are used to, try to plan ahead so that you will still have the same amount of time between meals that you know you will stay full for.
     For example, if you are used to eating breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and lunch at 12:00 p.m., but have a class from 11:30 to 12:45, eat breakfast at 9:00 a.m. instead and lunch at 1:00 p.m. Add a small snack earlier in the morning if you need to. This will avoid huge stretches of time without eating, which will make you tired and give you trouble focusing in class. If you are used to eating lots of small meals or snacks throughout the day instead, use your swipes and meal plan strategically. If a meal comes with a sandwich, fruit and a snack but you are not used to eating that much as once, make sure you still get everything it comes with. You can have the sandwich at once and save the rest or save the fruit and snack for later when you are hungry again in a few hours. At the dining hall, be sure to grab a piece of fruit to save for later. At the student center, use the full value of every swipe on things you will be able to save, such as a prepackaged salad or a carton of milk.
     If you are brand new to campus and want to know more about what specific foods there are for you to eat, try looking on Montclair’s website to see their dining options. Menus are listed for every dining facility and this can help you prepare for where you want to eat when you will be in a hurry and have to make a rushed choice. A lot of nutrition information is available online too. Be sure to not only look at calories, but the big picture. Every meal you eat should be a balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It can be dangerous to only eat one type of nutrient or block one out entirely. Instead be sure to find meals with something from every group. Carbohydrates (including vegetables and fruits) and protein should make up the bulk of your meal, with some healthy fats (the unsaturated kind) to go along with it.
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