College Students and Healthy Eating Habits

In this episode of Michigan Minds, Eliza Jarman, culinary and nutrition support specialist at Michigan Dining, shares tips to help college students maintain a well-balanced diet and explains the importance of nutrition to overall well-being. 

She says it is important to place emphasis on nutrition because it has so many impacts on health. 

“How you fuel your body determines your performance in many aspects of your life. And for students, it’s really important to consider the impacts of nutrition on their ability to focus, to study, and to perform academically. For student athletes, proper fueling is also important to maximize their athletic performance,” she says. 

As students prepare for finals and the end of the semester, Jarman recommends “brain foods” such as fatty fish or fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Flax seeds, walnuts, and avocados are also good options as well as berries and vegetables, she says. 

Jarman recommends looking at the plate as a whole, and says the more variety the better. 

“For snacks, I recommend pairing at least two food groups, preferably a carb and a protein. And at meals I would recommend, including at least three food groups, preferably a protein, a starch, and a fruit or vegetable.”

There are many resources available at U-M to help keep healthy eating in mind, including the MHealthy Guidelines. 

“Nutrition is essential to overall well-being.” 

“Sometimes I think of the human body as a piece of machinery. You have to properly fuel and oil the machine to keep it running smoothly. And if you use the right kinds of fuel and oil, you’ll maximize your performance. It’s kind of the same with nutrition. To maximize your overall well-being, including your physical and your mental health, you want to provide your body with all of the nutrients that it needs to thrive.”

Jarman also discusses how important it is to balance lifestyle and nutrition habits to build a healthy relationship with food, meaning that indulging is okay and no one should feel angry for listening to their body cues.

“Achieving a balanced lifestyle and healthy nutritional habits takes time and it takes practice. It’s not something you can learn overnight,” she says. “It definitely requires a lot of patience and self love.”