By Kate Arvesen, Baylor University nutrition student
ATTENTION all freshman and other students, too…summer has wound down and we are back in the mix. Life is about to get crazy for all of us! I’m talking about football games (Sic ‘em! new Baylor stadium), formals, intramural games, and most importantly tests. You may already be spending late nights studying and early mornings running out the door. I want you to feel ready for the semester as you make your own decisions in the grocery store and eating a variety. The decisions will have an impact on your grades and most importantly, your health. Let’s reverse the stigma of thinking about the “Freshman 15” to “Graduating 4.0”.
Then and now: Kate on her 1st day of 2nd grade (left) and Kate on her first day of her junior year at Baylor (right)
I just returned to Baylor University for my senior year. As I prepare to apply for dietetic internships, I search for ways to keep improving my grades in hopes of the acceptance letter to a program in the spring. Since freshman year, I have learned through trial and error how snacks, non-healthy verses healthy, following up to the test can affect the score outcome. Providing your body with nutrients and vitamins rich foods, your brain can function with more attention and recognition; while as, eating sugary and high fat foods can lead to mood crashes and lethargy.
I think it is easier to select foods that are we know aren’t as good for us while we are under stress because they are easily, available comfort foods. When going to the grocery store, I have learned to select foods that are on the outside parameters first. We know the store parameter suggestion is changing now with grocery stores putting more good stuff in the center. But I mean fresh produce, lean meats, fish and poultry, fresh breads, and dairy. I have found that shopping on Sundays is a good way to get food for the week. The mental choices of food decisions at the grocery store can provide us with quick options for the week instead of last minute picks.
We constantly labor how we need to eat less, but we tend to ignore the positive approach of how eating the right food will support brain power. For example, omega-3 fatty acids have docosahexaenoic (DHA) acid that may improve memory in college students according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, oils, and nuts (See below for Angela’s Homemade Trailmix). The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also recommends berries that provide anthocyanins and other flavonoids that may support memory function as well. Below the “mind Full” (also mindful) food list, I included one of my favorite college snacks , which is a greek yogurt mix. The mix is high in protein and the fresh fruit on top make it a delicious, nutrient-rich after school snack.
Use this guide below as a tool to get a variety at the grocery store. With limited space and time during the college semester, it is always best to plan in advance. With the help from Angela, we composed a shopping list of “Mind Full” foods. Most of these suggestions are made with the college student without access to a full kitchen.
“MIND FULL” Shopping List
Fruit- whole or pre-washed cut fresh fruit, dried fruit or frozen fruit. In-season produce is always cheaper! We have a great farmers market in Waco I frequently get my produce. Find a local farmers market near your school by going to the USDA Farmers Market searchable database. You can also go to Local Harvest, where they have a wonderful databse of farms, CSA's and farmers markets that sell direct to the consumer. Get to know your local farmer!
Protein- chicken breast, eggs, turkey breast, roast beef, no salt-added canned beans, frozen beans and cheese burritos.
Healthy fats & Plant-based protein- hummus (regular, red pepper flavors), variety of nuts, prepared guacamole, low-sugar dressings (either vinegar and oil or pre-made dressings in the refrigerator section), nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter), fat-free refried beans, avocados
Veggies- pre-cut or frozen fresh vegetables, bagged salad, grape tomatoes, carrot and celery sticks, low-sodium vegetable drinks. Again, check out the searchable databases above for the most economical and freshest produce near you.
Whole Grains- whole-grain bread and bagels, microwave brown rice, cereal with less than 7g of sugar and at least 3g of fiber, microwave 94% fat-free popcorn (snack size), frozen whole grain waffles, reduced fat whole grain crackers, low-sugar oatmeal, corn and whole wheat tortillas, whole grain flatbread, mini rice snacks, English muffin, graham crackers, pretzel sticks
Dairy- light yogurt, cheese sticks, 2% sliced cheese, low-fat milk, low-fat greek yogurt (see recipe).
Other- healthy trail mix (see recipe)
ANGELA’S HOMEMADE TRAIL MIX RECIPE
1 cup regular whole grain O’s cereal
1 cup whole grain soup crackers or pretzels
1/3 cup your favorite nuts or seeds
1/3 cup dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries
KATE’S GREAT GREEK YOGURT
1 cup of low-fat plain greek yogurt
½ cup of blue berries or strawberries
¼ cup of low-sugar cereal or quick oats
3 tbsp. of cinnamon
3 tbsp. of wheat germ
Be sure to pick-up a variety of BPA-free reusable food containers so you can pack some of these yummy foods in your backpack for easy snacks.
Enjoy your new semester! You can make it your best by eating right in practical ways.
Kate Arvesen is a senior at Baylor University and a 2nd year nutrition intern at Lemond Nutrition. Kate is currently preparing for her GRE and is currently going through the matching process for a dietetic internship. Wish her luck!