New year, new diet

 Citrus and blueberries have good amounts of vitamin C and antioxidants, along with fiber.( Michael Stern /Creative Commons)

Citrus and blueberries have good amounts of vitamin C and antioxidants, along with fiber.(Michael Stern/Creative Commons)

As we probably all know, exercising goes hand in hand with healthy eating habits, and overall health and fitness is not just what we do in the gym. The saying “abs are made in the kitchen” exists for a reason, and holds a lot of truth. The food we put in to nourish and fuel our bodies is equally important to how many miles we run or how much weight we lift.

It can unfortunately be very hard to maintain healthy eating habits in college, especially when you’re surrounded by French fries, calzones and chicken fingers. The constant stress that we endure in college can also send a lot of us into binge eating mode.

Thankfully, here at UConn, we have a lot of healthy options available to us in each dining hall, along with a card that lists any allergenic foods that each dish contains. Most people think that in order to lose weight or be healthier, they need to starve themselves or eat strictly salad. Salad is a healthy meal, but depriving your body of nutrients will only hurt it. There are plenty of more interesting and vitamin-packed options.

Rice is one food that can be found in any dining hall that is beneficial to our health. Rice provides energy, stabilizes blood sugar and slows down the aging process. It’s versatile; you can mix it with meat or vegetables, put hot sauce on it or just eat it by itself.

Quinoa is a rice alternative that is packed with protein, fiber, iron and magnesium, which are essential for keeping your mood up. It might not look very appetizing, but it’s extremely good for you, and a good side dish or dish to mix with meat or vegetables.

The best type of meat for improving your eating habits or losing weight is chicken, because it’s packed with protein. You may have to pass on the chicken nuggets, unfortunately, but grilled, roasted or baked chicken have their benefits. They also help you build muscle, relieve stress, improve bone/heart health and boost immunity.

Studies have shown that some of the best fruits and vegetables to eat are sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, blueberries, spinach, asparagus, lettuce, tomatoes and broccoli. Sweet potatoes are by far one of the best on this list because they are super rich in beta-carotene, which helps prevent inflammation. Citrus and blueberries have good amounts of vitamin C and antioxidants, along with fiber.


Germs are spread at lightning speed on college campuses and everyone is always getting sick. One way to help prevent yourself from getting sick so often is to keep your vitamin C levels up.

Spinach is high in iron, and when combined with vitamin C foods, is even more beneficial. Combining a spinach salad with orange slices or strawberries is a good way to get the most health benefits out of the foods.

Iron helps to make us feel stronger and less tired or sluggish. Not having good iron levels can throw off your entire body and affect your overall physical and mental health. It’s found in red meat as well, but spinach is a good way to keep your levels up without consuming red meat 24/7.

Perhaps one of the most frustrating problems a lot of students struggle with is breakfast and snacking on-the-go. Pure oats is one of the best foods to start your day with, as it contains fiber, whole grains, protein and is gluten free. I know a lot of people on campus, including myself, are allergic to gluten, so oatmeal is a great a go-to breakfast. As an alternative to dining hall oatmeal (if you don’t want to leave your room) you can always buy the packets or cups of oatmeal that you just heat up and then they’re ready to eat.

Fruits are great as a breakfast or a snack, and there are some protein bars that are also really great for these purposes as well. GoMacro bars are my personal favorite, because they’re gluten free, vegan, and nut-butter based. They’re probably the purest form a protein bar can come in. You can order them online. They’re sometimes available in organic stores, such as Whole Foods (aka the Promised Land).

Nuts are one of the easiest on-the-go snacks and have a lot of nutritional benefits. They also taste pretty good, which is a plus. The only downside is that they’re high in calories, but that’s outweighed by the fact that they’re good for your heart, contain unsaturated fats, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, fiber and vitamin E. Nuts are also a source of protein and almonds contain iron as well, which as I mentioned earlier, is widely beneficial.


Tessa Pawlik is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at tessa.pawlik@uconn.edu.