Let’s face it: School food is not always the best, in terms of flavor or nutrition. But that doesn’t mean you’ll either have to eat badly or starve, just that you need to know your way around a plate. There are many simple, almost painless ways to eat better and healthier while at school. Including…
1. Eat one piece of fresh fruit and/or one fresh veggie at lunch and dinner
This one is almost a no-brainer. Fresh, raw fruits and veggies are packed with vitamins, fiber, and the good kind of sugars and starches our bodies need, and they’re bulky, so they’ll help keep you feeling full longer. Pick one piece of fruit and one raw veggie you like and eat them with your lunch and dinner. Or go out on a limb and try something new; you might find you like broccoli, after all.
2. Skip one soda each day
Again, pretty easy. Sodas are full of high fructose corn syrup, and consuming more than one soda each day is linked to a whole mess of ailments, including osteoporosis (where you lose bone density and become more prone to fractures) and type 2 diabetes. If you need your caffeine fix –totally understandable, by the way- have a cup of coffee or green tea: Both have caffeine, and both are thought to improve health. Did you know coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer? And you can get both drinks iced; if you need something sweet to put in it, consider honey or Sugar in the Raw, which are both less refined and more nutritious than granulated white sugar.
3. Switch to whole-grain bread and pasta
Not only are they better for you, they’re bulkier than white bread and regular semolina pasta and will keep you fuller longer. They’re also, subjectively speaking, tastier than their more refined counterparts.
4. Know the veggie color chart
Veggies are good for you, everyone knows that. But how many of you know that the color of your veggies indicates what type of vitamins and nutrients it packs? This chart from the Maricopa Integrated Health System (http://education.mihs.org/diabetes/food_color.shtml) in Maricopa County, Arizona, details which color of veggies contain what type of nutrients.
5. If all else fails: Mashed potatoes, instead of French fries.
This might seem counter-intuitive, but fried foods are definite downers in your system. It takes more energy for your body to digest them, leaving you with less to study or hang out with your friends. Plus, it’s pretty hard for anyone to screw up mashed potatoes. In addition, many schools are opting to make mashed potatoes with olive oil, which has good monounsaturated fats, rather than butter.