For many people, the nutrition facts found on the back of food packages are confusing. They are meant for the general population, and thus cannot provide the information necessary for individual dietary needs. Your individual needs are based on your gender, age, size, physical activity level, and many other factors.
According to UNC Campus Health’s registered dietitian, most students only need to follow one simple rule to eat healthy during finals and otherwise: MyPlate.
MyPlate is an easy nutrition guide. It reminds us to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, with the other half split equally with grains and protein. Following MyPlate means you’re more likely to eat balanced meals and snacks that meet your nutritional needs.
Think about a “typical” American breakfast. 1/2 of it as fruits and veggies? That’s not going to happen with a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, or a plate of bacon and eggs. Eating the nutrient-dense colorful fruits and veggies takes a bit of effort and creativity!
Some examples of a well-balanced meal:
- Spaghetti with heavy-on-the-veggies sauce plus a salad on the side.
- Pizza with veggies on top and a salad on the side.
- Breakfast salad (e.g. eggs and bacon on top of greens and roasted veggies)
- Quinoa salad
A well-balanced snack can use the Plate method as well, or think about making sure each snack has fat, fiber and protein.
- Yogurt and granola with berries on top
- Fresh veggies and hummus
- Almonds and kale chips
- Good ol’ raisins and peanuts
- Apple and nut butter
These can be tough to find on campus – so plan ahead and bring them with you!
Finals is a tough time, but will be even tougher if you don’t nourish your body and brain.
If you are interested in receiving more information about nutrition, make an appointment with Nutrition Services at Campus Health Services.
This post was adapted from one by Justin Chu, a former nutrition graduate student and program assistant at Student Wellness.