10 Nutrition Tips For A Healthier Lifestyle

Ramen, chips, coffee, cereal and Chick-fil-A: all staples in the diet of a busy and stressed college student. Whether the freshman 15 is myth or not, nutrition is an important aspect of being a healthy and productive member of any community, especially a university! 

No longer are you living with your parents on a tightly regulated diet crafted by your mother or father that developed over eighteen years. As a college student, you are now faced with independent choices. One of those momentous decisions, which too often gets overlooked, is what you put into your body. 


Taylor Beard, a registered dietician at Baylor University, highlighted the importance of nutrition. 


“In general, an emphasis on nutrition is good because people don't realize how much of their health is related to nutrition...everything in your body can be traced back to nutrition,” Beard said.  


Dr. LesLee Funderburk, an Assistant Professor in Family and Consumer Sciences at Baylor University, parallels Beard’s emphasis on collegiate nutrition. Funderburk also spoke to the importance of developing habits now that will carry you into later life. 


“This is the age range where individuals start developing habits that they will carry forward into adulthood… whether that be good or not so good,” Funderburk said.  


So how can you become more nutritionally aware in your fast-paced lifestyle that doesn’t allot time to counting calories? Here are ten ways everyone can insert nutritional habits into their diet with as little effort as possible. 


  1. Drink Water 


DRINK. WATER. You’re in Texas y’all. College students, according to Beard, are a “dehydrated population” who tend to rely heavily on sugary, caffeine-filled beverages such as soda and juice. These, albeit tasty, options provide an energy boost that will only last until the middle of your next class. According to Beard, increased sugar intake has been linked to heart disease and diabetes later in life. Not to mention that drinks like soda and juice are high in calories. So, next time bring your reusable water bottle and fill up at the dining hall or the water fountain. 

If water isn’t your thing or gets boring after a glass or two, try some hot tea. Tea is full of antioxidants, adds flavor to your cup, warms you up on a cold fall day and contains a small dose of the favorite drug of the college student: caffeine. If earl grey or chai isn’t your cup of tea (pun intended) all of the Baylor dining halls are stocked with fruit-infused water.  


  1. Go to the On-Campus Dietician 

Baylor has its own Registered Dietician on campus: Taylor Beard. Ms. Beard is a free resource available to all students, faculty, and staff at Baylor University. Utilize your resources, and go to her for all your nutrition and food-related questions. She is able to create personalized plans tailored to her clients.


  1. Balances is Key: 80/20 Rule:

Trying to eat healthier does not mean you have to get a salad at your next fast-food stop with your friends. It simply means not to hit up Whataburger every time you get hungry. It’s all about balance. One of the easiest ways to keep yourself accountable is through the 80/20 system. 


“Make 80 percent of your meals as nutrient-dense as possible,” said Beard, “So, 80 percent of your meals you’ve got your lean protein, you’ve got your veggies, you’ve got your fruit. Then the other 20% of the time, eat whatever you want.” 


If you do the math, and you manage to eat three square meals a day, seven days a week, then you can eat whatever your heart desires for four full meals a week.  

“If you are eating right most of the time, you’ve got plenty of room for indulgences,” Beard said.  



  1. Try to make half your plate fruits and veggies

The more colorful the better! We all know fruits and veggies are good for your health, so let's start acting like it. The quality of food intake can assist with hunger management and weight loss. If you are a visual learner, check out MyPlate to see a helpful diagram highlighting this tip! 


  1. Don’t try to be perfect. 


Do not try to be perfect. News flash...you will fail. And when you fail, it may seem easier to just give up healthy eating all together. Instead, exercise balance and do your best! 

“Don’t get caught up in trying to be perfect with your diet or how you look,” said Beard, “There is no such thing as perfect. What’s perfect is what works for you and what makes you feel good and what you can maintain.” 


  1. Don’t be afraid of FAT 


The stigma around fat as the enemy to your figure has proliferated long enough. According to Beard, women need fat to keep their bodies healthy. Fat helps make the hormones that are essential to our biological and reproductive systems. 

Beth Aldrich, a certified health counselor and author of "Real Moms Love to Eat: How to Conduct a Love Affair with Food, Lose Weight and Feel Fabulous," is an ardent defender of women consuming a small portion of fat, often. 


Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, Aldrich said, "I always tell women you need fat like you need oil in your car. Fat gives you essential vitamins, but it also makes you feel full." 


In order to take in the essential Omega 3’s and DHA, emphasize healthy, plant-based fats such as nuts, seeds, olive or vegetable oils, soy milk and fish. 


  1. Avoid Fad diets 


Stay away from trying the newest dietary trend at the expense of your happiness and even your health. Fad diets tend to encourage the avoidance of essential food groups. 


“You are missing something,” said Funderburk, “You could be missing a good source of fiber, a good source of calcium, a good source of vitamin C.”  


Instead, stick with the methods that have worked for decades. 

“Stick with the basic stuff that we all know about nutrition,” said Beard, “We all know that fruits and vegetables and whole grains and lean meats are good for you. There is not study out there that is going to say different. Stick with the basics of that.” 


  1. Always take the whole grain or whole wheat option 


Bread is composed of a cereal grain called wheat. Wheat is comprised of three component parts: bran, grain, and endosperm. White bread is made out of refined flour. During the process of treating the flour to produce white bread, both the bran and the grain are removed to promote a longer shelf life. By removing these portions, the bread is stripped of elements that can contribute to our overall health. 

“As a rule, you'll find more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting compounds in whole-wheat bread vs. white bread,” writes Anne Danahy MS RDN for Livestrong.com. 

So next time you go to the deli line to build a sandwich, consider requesting a whole grain or whole wheat bread. It tastes great and is good for you! 


  1. Watch what you snack. 


Instead of opting for a bag of name-brand chips, try packing your bag and stocking your dorm room with healthier and more filling options so when you are hungry you naturally opt for the nutrient-rich nibble. Keep fresh fruit , almonds, peanuts, dry cereal (high in fiber, of course) or dried fruit in your backpack. Back at home, whether that be a dorm room or an apartment, stock the fridge and shelves with on-the-go favorites such as yogurt, string cheese, nuts, nut butters, dried fruit, oatmeal, rice, beans, tortillas and bread. 

Pro tip: You may have heard the good advice of not going to the grocery store hungry, BUT also go to the grocery store with a list. Having a planned log, and sticking to it, will keep you from purchasing the bag of Doritos calling your name, or the cake that seems to be following you. 


  1. Eat three meals a day 


I know, I know. Between class, that club meeting, having to go on a run, coffee with the girl you met the other day, and homework, there just isn’t a whole lot of time to sit down and eat a meal, let alone three a day.  

According to Harvard Health Publishing, “It appears eating at least three times per day can keep you full and reduce hunger. This is good for weight loss. Eating fewer than three times a day puts you at risk for overeating and choosing less healthy foods.”

Remember, nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all system. All bodies are different. No matter the size or shape of a body, it is important to honor all it by giving your beautiful bod the necessary fuel. 

Beard explains how a dietician can help with the process of learning to show your individual body love. 

“Nutrition is such a specific science,” said Beard, “What I am going to recommend for you is not only going to be based if you are male or female, but your age, your activity level, if you have any existing diseases or allergies, your food preferences and your culture around food. What is right for you might not be right for me.” 


Finally, do your research. With knowledge of your options and what works best for you, comes freedom to chow down. Bon Appetit!