Ever wish you had access to smart, healthy, easy advice about food? I know the feeling! We’re so hung-up on diets and quick fixes and the mentality that food is an enemy meant to be defeated (I will conquer you, 3am pizza cravings!) that we forget that food is pretty darn awesome. A year ago I decided I was sick of feeling like I was in a constant battle with food and my body, so I started seeing a nutritionist. It has been the most beneficial experience ever—I have never been healthier or happier. I finally learned how to eat—not how to diet, but how to live a healthy lifestyle! Jealous? You don’t have to be! Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, and full-disclosure, my fabulous and supportive nutritionist, just published a new book titled “The O2 Diet,” designed to help make it easy to be “healthy, thin, and beautiful.” Don’t have the cash to buy the book? You’re in luck. Keri granted Her Campus an exclusive interview, focusing specifically on things that get in the way of college women leading healthy lives.
Her Campus: I think the hardest things about staying healthy in college are: lack of routine, lots of tempting junk food, and a chaotic lifestyle. How can college women overcome these hurdles and stay healthy? Keri Glassman: Having a lifestyle that is less than calm and organized can make eating healthy seem like a daunting feat, especially when we are constantly surrounded by cheap, quick, and tasty meals that appear much more conducive to an on-the-go schedule. However, there is hope! By following these simple steps, you can be well on your way to eating well again.
- Start the day out right by eating breakfast. Even if you’re not hungry, eat breakfast because your metabolism will thank you. Starting the day with this important meal will help to keep your metabolism humming all day long. The mistake that many dieters make is skipping breakfast which only ends up sabotaging your diet by lowering your metabolism and leaving you starving by the time lunch rolls around. Look to eat a breakfast that has lean protein and fiber, such as 2 egg whites and a slice of whole wheat toast, to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
- Snack more! Research has demonstrated that routine eating of snacks makes it easier to consume fewer calories, and helps to regulate blood sugar, which will keep you from overeating at meals. Keeping snacks on hand such as 6oz of fat-free yogurt and 8 raw almonds; or carrot and celery sticks with string cheese will also help to improve the mental acuity and stabilize your energy levels.
HC: What are some ways to tackle dining halls, especially buffet style ones, and still make the healthiest choices?
KG: Eating at dining halls can be overwhelming when you’re surrounded by many high-calorie junk foods. Some tips to help you navigate the dining hall buffets are:
- Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. All too often we eat because we want to or because we’re receiving visual cues to nosh, when we’re actually not hungry. Tune into your body and ask yourself before eating, am I really hungry right now?
- Don’t go to the dining hall feeling famished. When you get there, you’re all the more likely to eat the first thing that you see, which is probably going to be that slice of pizza or fries. Instead, go to the dining hall feeling just slightly hungry. If you’re not famished then you’ll be able to be in control of what you’re having for dinner.
- Fill up your plate with at least two thirds veggies like steamed broccoli, a small portion of a complex carb like brown rice and a lean protein, such as grilled chicken breast, broiled salmon.
- Portion control. At dining halls it can be hard to keep portions in mind. A few helpful reminders are: 1 serving of meat/lean protein should look like the size of the original iPod; 1 serving of grains (pasta, rice) should look like a mound the size of a hamburger bun top; 1 serving of cereal should be the size of a small fistful; don’t hold back with veggies, fill up your plate! (unless they’re cooked in oil)
- Choose to eat your dinner on a salad plate; the smaller the plate, the less room there is to fill it up!
HC: What are some of the worst foods to consume, and some of the best (french fries vs. blueberries, for example)? Why? KG: Aside from the usual offenders such as pizza, ice cream, and French fries because of their high saturated fat, low fiber content, some other foods to avoid are: Calorie-laden coffees: which are full of fat and can pack up to 1,000 calories. Opt for a small, non-fat latte if you need that coffee fix to get you through the day.
Sugar-free, fat-free fake-outs: they offer little nutritive value, are not satisfying, and are loaded with artificial ingredients-yuck! Soft drinks: not only are they linked to obesity, but they can adversely affect your bone health too! As for diet soda- there are even studies that suggest that people who consume these beverages are more likely to be obese!
While I have many favorite foods, some of the best that I would recommend eating are: Nuts and seeds- they’re full of protein, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and are a great source of healthy fats that will help to keep your heart healthy and leave you feeling full for hours! Just remember portion control!
Yogurt- A dieter’s best friend. Not only does it help to keep your digestive system happy, but research has shown that people who consume plenty of low-fat dairy products are able to lose more weight than people who don’t. Beans- they’re nutritional superstars despite their bad reputation. Full of flavor, texture, high fiber complex carbs, protein, B-vitamins, and minerals, what’s not to love?
HC: Drinking is a fairly big part of most college lifestyles. How can college women go out and have fun without feeling like they’re missing out on time with their friends, but still do it in a healthy way?
KG: While drinking is an inevitable part of college, the calories can add up quickly with one night of drinking. Having three rum and Cokes can put you at over 1,000 calories, and one margarita alone is 407 calories! If you simply can’t avoid alcohol when you go out, some drinks for 100 calories or less include: 4 oz white wine spritzer: 40 cals 11 oz seltzer with 1 oz vodka and a squeeze of lime: 64 cals 1.25 oz whiskey/gin/rum/vodka (80 proof): 80 cals 4 oz white wine: 96 cals HC: Why should we avoid FAD diets or quick fixes, i.e., “get skinny for spring break!” or stuff like that? KG: As a rule of thumb, if you plan to go off of a diet, you should never go on it in the first place. Making meaningful diet and lifestyle changes are the key to long term weight-loss success. FAD diets and other “quick fix” claims are likely to set you up for a dieting disaster. Once you’ve finished your FAD diet and go back to eating a more regularly you’re going to want to overcompensate for the deprivation you’ve caused yourself. Inevitably negating the hard-work you put into losing that weight in the first place. Losing weight quickly through laxative-type diets can make you deficient in important minerals and is not to mention unpleasant! Food-substitute diets like eating cookies, while fortified with nutrients, will not give you the same benefits as if you were to eat them from real foods. Additionally, eating this way does not teach yourself to change your diet for long term success.