Meatless Monday featured this interview with Daphne Oz, author of The Dorm Room Diet, a national bestseller that helps college students create healthy eating habits.
The introduction to The Dorm Room Diet welcomes readers of varying nutritional backgrounds. How can young people change their eating habits despite an upbringing that didn’t include healthy dining choices?
The trick to forming healthy dining habits, because or in spite of the habits you were raised with, is to live in the moment. Make every eating decision consciously. When you do splurge, just make sure you’ve actually made a decision to indulge, and are not quickly cramming food into your mouth simply out of habit, boredom – or because you think no one is looking (your waistline will be!).
Proper nutrition during your college years can have benefits beyond your immediate health. How do healthy eating habits impact academic success?
The blood sugar spike that occurs when you ingest a ton of simple carbohydrates gives a huge jolt of jittery energy, followed almost immediately by a blood sugar crash that can leave you exhausted and craving another sugar fix. Obviously, this makes focusing on classwork incredibly difficult. Making sure you are getting plenty of fruits and veggies, complex carbohydrates, proteins, and good fats can aid in mental acuity, information retention, and concentration.
In your book, you write that students should consume three small servings of protein a day, but you also state that only one serving should come from meat. What other foods offer protein and what benefits do they hold over meat products?
The next time you’re weighing whether you “need” to eat meat for your third meal of the day, keep in mind that Americans, on the whole, get up to 5 times more protein than they need. Also, meat isn’t the only source of protein, and you do NOT need it in your diet (certainly not on an every day basis). Consider this: A 6-ounce broiled porterhouse steak has 38 grams of protein, but it also has 44 grams of fat!
Some of my favorite meatless protein sources from my college days are kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lowfat cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, protein bars, tofu/seitan jerky, cooked lentils, spinach and soy crisps.
What tips do you have for students who are trying to make healthy meatless choices?
I would say that the most important thing is to plan your meals. If you can, pack your own food, but it is also possible to get a healthful variety in the cafeteria. Most colleges provide extensive salad bars, as well as cooked meatless options (whole grains, vegetable stir fry, sandwiches, etc).
Many students find trips to dining hall overwhelming. Do you have any tips for successfully navigating the wide range of choices?
I certainly found adjusting to cafeteria eating to be one of the more difficult transitions I had to make. You’re confronted with so many options! It’s not so hard though once you come to understand that food is meant for fuel, not a social lubricant or time waster. Establishing a healthy eating menu early on in the school year can spare you some of the stress of decision making while you’re still getting your bearings.
One fail safe way to make sure you stay on track is to choose your salad items first: pile your plate high with lettuce, fresh veggies, beans and legumes. After you’ve made your salad choice, go back for the less healthy options, and take half portions. Eat the salad first, then eat what you like of the rest of your meal.
Thankfully LIFE students can always find healthy food selections in the Socrates Cafe. Since the cafe opened do you find yourself choosing healthier food options? Have you tried foods that you wouldn’t ordinarily order…or had never eaten before?