As the amount of research done on food and what constitutes as a healthy diet continues to grow, we find ourselves more and more health-conscious. In college, however, the worst of diet habits form. While it may seem like an anomaly to eat healthy in college, there are some simple steps you that will improve your diet and develop habits that will better your health in the long run.
This- Water with Lemon
Not That- Vitamin Water and diet sodas
While water is nothing special compared to its sweet, tasteful alternatives, it is essential that we don’t forget to drink it. This is especially true because it accounts for more than half of our body mass. Vitamin Water markets their product as a healthy, hydrating, and rejuvenating substitute for water (very well might I add); however, as depressing as it may be, this marketing ploy is simply an illusion. The harsh reality shows that Vitamin Water is fortified sugar water. The nutrition label misconstrues people because many do not realize that one bottle accounts for 2.5 servings. Unless you drink less than half a bottle a day, you are consuming 125 calories and 33 grams of sugar—That is more than a 12-oz serving of Coke.
Speaking of Coke, don’t let “diet” labels fool you. While diet sodas may not contain the natural sugars that a regular soda has, they do contain artificial sugars, such as aspartame (a term commonly known as NutraSweet). Fake sugars tricks our bodies, and we end up craving sweets even more. Contrary to popular belief, diet sodas increase your weight because they lead to the consumption of more calories overall. One University of Texas study found that people who drank diet soda regularly had a 70 percent greater waist circumference than those who did not.
This- 100% whole wheat bread
Not That- white or multigrain bread
While it may seem obvious with the large amount research accumulated on this topic, many people continue to consume white bread given the lower cost. Whole grains, unlike white bread, reduce your risk for diabetes and heart disease. It takes the body longer to absorb whole grain products like whole wheat bread. The slower absorption rate prevents sharp rises in sugar and insulin levels. Multigrain bread that does not contain whole grains can spike insulin levels. Besides containing less sugar, whole wheat bread has an abundance of dietary fiber as well- an essential for any weight loss regime. Soluble fiber slows down the digestive process, makes you feel full, and reduces cholesterol. All of these benefits are lost when eating refined grains like those in white or multigrain bread.
Buyers beware: Many products claim to be a “healthy source of whole grains”. However, usually their first ingredient listed is refined flour (what we want to stay away from). The FDA does not define a percentage for the amount of whole grain that must be whole, and as a consequence food labels can be misleading. Make sure that “whole grain” or “whole wheat” is the first and primary ingredient in order to get the best nutritional value out of your grains.
This- Greek Yogurt
Not That- Regular Yogurt
Going Greek is in when it comes to yogurt. While both nonfat and low-fat regular yogurts are part of a healthful diet, Greek yogurt has a competitive edge. Greek yogurt can pack up to double the protein, while cutting sugar content by half with roughly the same amount of calories—every health nut and dietician’s ideal scenario. Where as it may be a bit thicker consistency and less sweet than regular yogurt, throw in some fresh fruit and almonds for a great taste and an option for a quick yet healthy breakfast.
This- Healthy Cereals
Not That- Granola
Adding to that picture perfect parfait mentioned before, while granola may seem like the best healthy crunch to add on top, it might be one of the least healthy options. Ironically enough, granola is yet another food that hides behind a curtain of deception. With all the sugar it contains, just one cup of granola can easily top out at 600 calories, a third of the average woman’s daily allowance. Pick a cereal that has the same munchies goodness with more fiber than sugar.
Next time you reach for that Vitamin Water after a brisk fall run, don’t let the false perception of a label win you over. Creating healthy eating habits in college is hard enough as it is. Do yourself and your body a favor by taking these steps toward a healthier lifestyle with habits that will pay off in the end.