Healthy eating can help students stay focused for final stretch of semester

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Silver fork in a mixed vegetable salad seasoned with olive oils.

Olivia Richard, Reporter

Healthy eating is important for Kent State University college students to help them stay energized and focused throughout busy days.

What college students eat affects how well they perform in and outside of class. Eating certain foods can increase how long a student stays full and energy levels daily.

Headshot of Tanya Falcone (Photo from Tanya Falcone)

Tanya Falcone, coordinator for the Center of Nutrition Outreach, said, “Nutrition affects the mind and mental illness.”

Eating Omega-3 healthy fats like fish and avocados help with serotonin levels. Serotonin levels affect memory, mood and learning. Gut bacteria is connected to brain interactions and food choices affect the mind. The mind then affects food choices. This is almost like a cycle.

“Students tend to go for heavy carbs like pasta when they should go for fruits and vegetables. All food choices will affect mental health,” Falcone said.

Staying away from heavy carbs and adding colorful foods to increase mood and energy like fruits and vegetables will help students much more.

“People say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but every meal is equally important,” she said.

Students have busy schedules and need to stay focused with energy. Packing snacks to keep on them will keep them focused with energy to refuel.

“To keep up the energy, students should eat every three to four hours. String cheese can be kept in a bag for two to four hours and is a good source of protein with calcium,” Falcone said. “Peanut butter and Kind bars are great to have because protein will keep students full longer. Healthy carbs like vegetables are important to eat and stay away from white bread. Sandwiches with whole grain bread are helpful too.”

Headshot of Emily Baker (Photo from Emily Baker)

Emily Baker, director of Science/Dietetic Internship Program, said, “My favorite breakfast to have is overnight oats with oatmeal, milk, cinnamon, flax and chia. Mornings are hectic so having something quick to eat with nutrition is helpful. I also love breakfast sandwiches with two pieces of sprouted wheat bread, egg whites, spinach and salsa.”

When timing out meals students should keep in mind their schedule for the day and when they are going to bed.

“Students should eat their last meal four hours before bed and have a small snack two hours before bed. Protein like nuts or almonds are a good snack. Meals should include chicken or beans with brown rice and veggies,” Falcone said.

Meals can include a variety of options with different meats and vegetables every night or throughout the day.

“Honoring your body has a huge impact. When students have cravings, it is okay to indulge because restricting yourself will make it harder,” Baker said. “Don’t tell yourself you can’t have it. Students can sign up for free nutrition help to help them learn more about what they need.”

Olivia Richard is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]