Image Credit: Collin J. Riviello for The Campus Trainer
Eating a healthy, well balanced diet is essential to feeling good and supporting your body. However, changing eating habits can be overwhelming and it is easy to fall into the trap of unsustainable dieting. Therefore, starting with small changes and finding ways to incorporate healthier foods into your diet is a great way to begin.
Sister Maureen Schrimpe, the University of Maryland Dining Services nutritionist, emphasized the importance of making mindful decisions when altering your diet. Eating healthier does not have to be “rocket science,” but merely employing simple strategies, she said.
According to Schrimpe, some of the best ways to create a healthier diet are by substituting in healthier foods for unhealthy ones, trying to fill half your plate with vegetables and reducing the number of trans fats you consume. She also suggested planning out recipes before going grocery shopping and paying attention to the ingredients in foods.
“You know how to build a better meal...plan and shop. I don't ever go grocery shopping when I haven't figured out what the meals are going to be,” Schrimpe said.
Emily Hillig, a junior dietetics major at the University of Maryland, follows many of the guidelines Schrimpe suggested. She tries to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet by ensuring that each of her meals throughout the day contain foods from some of the major food groups. She also tries to pair meals and snacks with either a fruit or a vegetable.
Trying new foods and cuisines can be helpful in finding new healthy meal options. Hillig said testing new recipes from different cultures helps her stay healthy and helps her to avoid eating the same thing every day.
Taylor Crutchley, a sophomore government and politics major, tries to incorporate a lot of protein in her meals, that way she feels satisfied after eating. She accomplishes this with a variety of recipes. “One of my favorite things to make is a chocolate coffee oatmeal recipe that I came up with, but I also love making acai bowls, oat banana bread [and] chicken cacciatore with polenta,” Crutchley said.
Julia Latoff, a junior dietetics major, echoed Schrimpe’s advice and always plans her meals for the week before going to the grocery store.When she goes to the store, she tries to get a variety of foods, such as different sources of protein and fruits and vegetables, so she has more options.
Finding trustworthy sources of information is also essential to making beneficial changes to your diet. Social media platforms often disseminate information and advice that is not always accurate or entirely healthy. “You want to make sure that you’re getting nutrition information [that] is actually backed by sources that are reliable,” said Latoff.
Making dietary changes should be done gradually, in a sustainable manner, according to Schrimpe. Implementing drastic changes immediately can actually be counterproductive. “It’s a slow process, it takes time, it takes thinking,” Schrimpe said.
Forming healthy habits takes time. “It's not good for your body to just be shocked, like to transition from what you're normally eating to a whole different diet that you've probably never really been that familiar with. So it's definitely like doing it over time and gradually,” said Hilig.