Making healthy choices

Credit: Hannah Rosen | Photo Staff Credit: Hannah Rosen | Photo Staff

College life is not easy, but what’s even harder is eating healthy while there. When pressures and responsibilities pile on, we tend to spoil ourselves with food, more specifically, with comfort food. Most of the food we eat is processed food, high in carbohydrate and with low nutrition value. From bagels and coffee (with all the extra sugar) in the morning to sandwiches and greasy Chinese food in the evening, it seems like we failed health class.

A healthy diet is a part of healthy living. It’s a lifestyle, not a diet program.

Slightly modifying your everyday diet is easier than you think. First, you need to figure out which foods are healthier than others. You should look for unprocessed food, or food that is minimally modified from its original form. Choose fresh fruit over chips, juice over soda, and multigrain bread over white bread. Overall, you should try and maximize the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Of course, the healthier alternatives are not always the most appealing, but with some effort, you can eat better.

Food on campus is heavy in carbohydrates, but here are some quick tips to make choosing what to eat much easier. Instead of coffee, tea can provide a healthier dose of eye-opening caffeine. From La Prima Espresso in Wean Hall to Ginger’s Deli in Tepper, you can select from a wide variety of tea. Adding milk, preferably non-fat, to your Earl Grey, Awake, or Darjeeling tea will soften the flavor and aroma of the tea. Green tea is also a good option, as it gives a nice clean flavor compared to black tea. Organic tea options are available at all the cafés. If the tea tastes too bitter, ask for the tea bag separately, wait for the water to cool down to very warm instead of boiling hot, and then dip your tea bag in. The bitterness is usually because the water is too hot.

When eating lunch at Asiana in Newell-Simon, try to get a portion of vegetables on your bowl. Selecting the Wakame salad over a fried spring roll can also be a refreshing, and of course healthy, change. For a drink, if you have never tried Asian soymilk, a can of Yeo’s soymilk at Asiana might make you rethink soy.

Rather than getting soda on your block, get juice instead. A 15.2 oz bottle of Dole’s orange juice provides 190 percent of your daily vitamin C intake. With the weather becoming colder every day, an extra shot of vitamin C is definitely useful.

At Ginger’s Deli, Subway, or Quiznos, experiment with different healthy options of bread and narrow down your favorites. In addition to providing you with a healthy dose of fiber and other nutrients, non-white breads are more flavorful than their less nutritional, white-bread peers.

That being said, you should not cut yourself off from all your favorite foods. Indulge in pierogies, chocolate, and icecream once in a while, but not regularly or often.

With no real kitchen, eating in a dorm room can be challenging, especially when you are not on a meal plan. But if you survived 15-100, it’s easy to get around food-100.

The easiest and most economical way is getting food from home. Next time you go home, look around in your mother’s pantry. Food from home is usually healthier and, of course, always free.

Try shopping at Giant Eagle for some fresh produce. Their bread is usually fresher, tastier, and healthier than that of other grocery stores. Their bread also comes in a smaller size so you will not end up letting it go stale. Getting food in smaller sizes means that there is a better chance that you’ll finish it before it goes bad. It also allows more flexibility, as you can get a variety of small things to eat.

Fruit is a healthier and a leaner late night snacking option than chips. Bananas are a very “efficient” fruit because there is no need to wash or chop them, and apples are also a good option as they come in different varieties that appeal to different tastes. Notice how both bananas and apples already come in portions, so there’s no need to cut them up like melons and pineapples.

Including fruit in your meal can be easier than you think. You can add some sliced banana or dried cranberries to your salad. Extra sugar adds a nice sweet aftertaste. Instead of cucumber, adding slices of Granny Smith apples in your sandwich makes it extra crisp and also adds tartness. Don’t limit apples to just peanut butter sandwiches; include slices on your turkey or bacon sandwiches, too. If you have a better-equipped kitchen, then try slicing up honeydew and sample it with prosciutto and cream cheese.

A healthier diet doesn’t mean eating soy protein or drinking wheat grass shots. It’s about having a balanced diet. Start with a small change at a time, try different types of food, and expand your culinary repertoire.