By Bianca Viana
March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign designed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The goal? To educate others on making informed food choices, developing healthy eating habits and physical activity habits.
As college students it can become easy to get overwhelmed and forget about our health and well-being. Oftentimes we might put off working out because we have three exams that can make or break our grade. Or instead of making a home cooked meal we might just grab fast-food because it's quick and we have another Zoom meeting that we have to jump on to. However, it's important that we ensure we are fueling our bodies with the right foods and moving our body every day.
Lauren Ciuffo is Adelphi’s on-campus registered dietician. She shared with The Delphian how we as college students can really ensure we are taking care of ourselves.
“A nutritious diet plays an important role in academic performance,” she said. “Brain function, energy levels and alertness can all be altered by what we choose to eat and drink.”
Without giving our bodies the proper fuel, we might just end up making the situation worse for ourselves. She said the top nutrition mistakes we are probably all making and not realizing are: skipping breakfast, not hydrating enough and having variety in our meals and snacks. Yet these are all vital in ensuring we perform well academically, as well as to keep our bodies healthy.
“Starting your day with a nourishing breakfast (it doesn't have to be a big, elaborate meal) has been shown to improve test scores and increase energy levels,” Ciuffo said.
Further, everyone’s downfall is hydration. We often forget to drink enough water throughout the day because it becomes so easy to get caught up in everything else happening around us.
“Hydration status also has profound effects on concentration and mood. Water and other non-sugar sweetened beverages help meet fluid recommendations,” Ciuffo added. “The aim is to consume half your body weight in ounces of fluid.”
Variety in food is also very important because we should all try new things and see what we like and don’t. Varying our options can impact our nutrition greatly, Ciuffo said. “When it comes to nutritional adequacy, variety is key to ensuring you obtain adequate amounts of essential nutrients. By mixing things up and trying different types of eating styles, you'll be sure to include a variety of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.”
Many do struggle with varying our diets and trying new things and so Ciuffo recommended that students, “work off of what you already enjoy and add from there. Consider adding grilled veggies to a turkey sandwich or subbing hummus instead of mayo for a creamy, protein-rich, plant-based spread.”
These don’t have to be big drastic changes to your diet. Ciuffo said another great way to vary your diet is by “experimenting with different ethnic cuisines. This will expose you to a world of new flavors and cooking styles.”
You can get started right here on campus. Ciuffo’s personal favorite is the Marketplace offering something new each day, “…comfort foods, Mediterranean, Asian, you name it.”
She continued, “I also like to include a side of the grilled broccolini from the Back Bar grill. Seasoned with a little bit of heat, it’s a colorful and tasty way to get fiber, vitamins and minerals. I also can't go wrong with a comforting bowl of pasta in a hearty tomato sauce.”
For those who are ready to go out and try something new and exciting off-campus, Ciuffo recommends Food for Thought Cafe on 7th St. in Garden City. “They offer a lot of customization and options for different dietary restrictions/preferences,” she said.
The added bonus: Adelphi students get 10 percent off there.
In terms of finding your own individual balance among food, Ciuffo recommended finding foods you enjoy and that just make you feel good.
“Choose familiar foods while being open to trying new options to allow yourself to discover different flavors and textures,” she said.
And be sure you’re getting all your nutrients in that meal or snack. Ciuffo added that it’s important that we include carbohydrates, proteins and fats in them “so that you will feel satisfied and nourished.”
For Ciuffo’s suggested grocery lists, meal and snack ideas and pre-exercise fuel, visit https://dineoncampus.com/adelphi/meet-our-dietitian.