7.3 Nutrition


  • Have you noticed any changes to your eating habits now that you are in college?
  • Do you have any goals set around creating better eating habits?
  • Why is it important to monitor your water intake and when do you need to replenish your fluids the most?

Does What I Eat and Drink Really Matter?

Fruit and vegetables
Photo by LustrousTaiwan, Pixabay License

We have 37 trillion cells in our body. The only way they function optimally is with good nutrition. As a college student, you will be surrounded by temptations to eat poorly or even to overeat. It’s now up to you to make wise choices in the face of these temptations.

Ideally, the key to a good diet is to eat a varied diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, drink a lot of water and to minimize fats, sugar, and salt. However, accommodating your new schedule and commitments to school may mean there is a period of adjustment.

Students today face a variety of challenges when it comes to healthy eating:

  • the prices of food have gone up dramatically and may not have been in your original budget.
  • if you are on a meal plan, the food may not be to your liking or high in fats and salts that your body is not used to processing.
  • produce prices are seasonal and foods you are used to eating may need to be imported, do not taste the same, are very expensive, and only available in specialty shops.
  • it may be your first time away from home and having to cook for yourself and it may be tempting to “grab a bite” out which gets expensive and may not be “healthy” food.

Counting calories is often a way people measure how much food they should consume to be healthy but the exact amounts depend on your particular calorie requirements and activity levels, which may change now that you are sitting more in front of a computer or in class.

You can’t look at eating alone, but will have to consider your activity level and overall goals you have around your health.

Does What I Drink Really Matter?

Most of your blood and every cell in your body is composed of water. In fact, water makes up 60 to 80 percent of our entire body mass, so when we don’t consume enough water, all kinds of complications can occur. To function properly, all the cells and organs in our body need water. Proper hydration is key to overall health and well-being. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Dehydration is when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it needs. Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic discovered that mild dehydration (as little as losing 1 to 2 percent of body water) can impair cognitive performance (Riebl & Davy, 2014).

Water increases energy and relieves fatigue, promotes weight loss, flushes toxins, improves skin complexion, improves digestion, and is a natural headache remedy (your brain is 76 percent water). Headaches, migraines, and back pains are commonly caused by dehydration. Your body will also let you know it needs water by messaging through muscle cramps, achy joints, constipation, dry skin, and of course a dry mouth.



What is most important is making good choices and there are a variety of tools to help you do that. Take the time to consider the following:

The following is from the Health Canada’s (2018) Food Guide. Explore the link to find more information under each section. Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It is also about where, when, why, and how you eat.

Be mindful of your eating habits

  • Take time to eat.
  • Notice when you are hungry and when you are full.

Cook more often

  • Plan what you eat.
  • Involve others in planning and preparing meals.
  • In Canada, the Healthy Menu Choices Act, 2015 requires that all restaurants with 20 or more locations must clearly display  caloric information for any food and drink items on their menu (CBC News, 2016).

Enjoy your food

  • Culture and food traditions can be a part of healthy eating.
  • Eat meals with others.
Make it a habit to eat a variety of healthy foods each day.

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods.

  • Choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat.

Limit highly processed foods. If you choose these foods, eat them less often and in small amounts.

  • Prepare meals and snacks using ingredients that have little to no added sodium, sugars, or saturated fat.
  • Choose healthier menu options when eating out.
Make water your drink of choice
  • Replace sugary drinks with water.
Use food labels
  • Food labels are valuable tools to help you determine what your healthy eating should look like. Learning how to read and interpret the nutrition facts, ingredient lists and nutrition claims on your food packaging.
  • Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices.


Take a few minutes to write down everything you ate in the last two days. Now review your list and see if you can identify where is there opportunity for healthier choices? How can these changes benefit you?

Now add another column to your chart and add the approximate or exact cost of the food.  This helps us get a good overall picture of any other opportunities we have to make good choices about our finances when it comes to eating at home, or eating out.

11.1 Taking Care of Your Physical Health” from College Success  by Amy Baldwin & Open Stax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 



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