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Building Balanced & Nutritious meals

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

While it’s easy to skip the pantry and head straight for frozen or fast food, it’s worth building a balanced meal to fuel your day. It’s much more simple than you may think!


As college students are becoming busier with their day-to-day lives, it's important to remember to fuel their bodies with the necessary nutrients they need in order to live a healthy and balanced life.



Why is it important to eat nutritious meals?

College students are arguably some of the busiest people around, so it can be difficult to find the time to meal prep and eat a balanced diet. The importance of adding nutrient-dense foods to our diets is not often talked about on social media or in school, so many students may have a lack of information related to the importance of health and wellness. This blog will share some quick tips on building a balanced & nutritious meal that will contribute to us feeling more energized throughout our busy days.

 

Back to the Basics:

When creating a nutritious meal, remember to fill your plate with a variety of foods. You can use the food pyramid to help determine what food groups may be a beneficial addition to your meal.


Fruits and vegetables

Adding a serving of fruit or a side of vegetables to your meals will not only add fun flavors to your plate, but it will also bring in fiber to in turn help your gut health. Adding it to smoothie bowls can be a great way to increase your nutrient intake throughout the day without sacrificing your favorite meals.

Breakfast: Strawberries and bananas sliced over a smoothie bowl with other greens

Lunch: Side caesar salad with mixed berries as a topping

Dinner: Grilled asparagus, roasted brussel sprouts


Starchy foods

Starchy foods are the main source of carbohydrates in our diets. Carbohydrates are portrayed as detrimental to diets. If your diet does not contain a sufficient amount of carbs, you may feel lethargic and low-energy. Starch also contains other nutrients, like fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Starchy foods can be the base for many of your meals.

Breakfast: Toast with almond butter

Lunch: Sandwich/pasta

Dinner: Stir fry with rice/loaded salad bowl with potatoes or rice



Proteins

Protein is absolutely essential to your diet. Protein helps the body repair cells and make new ones, so it is necessary to have it! Protein can be more complicated to get as a college student, but you have options. You can either get prepackaged meat to cook, or, if you are vegetarian, consider including quinoa, soy, and beans in your diet.

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs

Lunch: Greek yogurt bowl with pumpkin seeds and nut butter

Dinner: Grilled chicken, salmon bowls


Dairy

Dairy has several nutritional benefits that help maintain bone health and can lower blood pressure. Dairy is a great source of calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin D. Foods like yogurt can also help improve your gut health. The nutrients and types of fat in dairy are involved with bone health, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions.

Breakfast: Yogurt and granola

Lunch: Taco salad

Dinner: Glass of milk with dinner


Sugars

Avoid having too much sugar in your diet, but do not cut it out completely. Sugar isn't actually bad for you. In fact, it's a great source of energy — when consumed in the right way and in moderation. Remember to treat yourself! Keep some sweet treats around, or even bake some yourself.

Breakfast: Apple

Lunch: Granola bar

Dinner: brownie after dinner

 

Conclusion

As hard as it may seem, it is possible to maintain a balanced diet while having a busy life on campus. We do not need to sacrifice our favorite foods- this blog post shares the additional ingredients we can add that only make them more nutrient dense. Most of these meals could also be meal prepped and stored in your fridge throughout the week so that they are easy to grab and go! Remember it is all about balance and keeping ourselves feeling fueled and energized. We hope that you learned a little about the different food groups and how to build balanced meals and can implement these ideas into your daily lives!






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