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Nutrition for Children and Teenagers

By the time college rolls around, food choices are completely up to the young adult. College can be a time of rush, rush, rush, and not having enough time or money for good eating habits. College dorm life is a particularly toxic food environment, with limited cafeteria food choices, vending machines, a general lack of nutritional consciousness, and the ease of getting deliverable foods like pizza. College life can bring on sloppy eating habits as well as a lack of exercise habits, not to mention some alcohol and partying. Along with all the other changes that college brings, changes in eating habits are sure to happen. It is not unusual for the college freshman to put on an extra 15 pounds during the first year at school.

Skipping Breakfast
One of the number-one mistakes college kids make is skipping breakfast. As we have discussed before, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When you wake up in the morning, your body has gone for about eight hours with no food or fuel. Breakfast can be a bagel and juice in your room or on the way to class; whole-grain cereal, fat-free milk, and fruit in the dining hall; or even a hot meal. Breakfast can help get your brain and body ready for your hectic day, and make you less likely to snack on high-fat, high-calorie foods between classes due to midmorning hunger attacks. Breakfast can also keep you more awake and alert for those early morning classes!

Campus Dining Halls
Campus dining halls are filled with both healthy and not-so-healthy foods. The key is learning what to choose.

At breakfast, stick with whole-grain cereals, bagels, toast, and other starches with low-fat toppings. Top your cereal with fresh fruit and top it off with fat-free milk. Choose low-fat yogurts for added calcium and egg whites or hard-boiled eggs for added protein. Avoid sugary cereals and higher-fat breakfast foods like doughnuts, Danish, bacon, sausage, or eggs fried in fat. Some of those may be quicker to prepare but are full of fat, sugar, and extra calories. These types of food will put on the pounds and not keep you satisfied as long.

Essential: If you visit the salad bar, avoid too much fat and too many calories: use only a small amount of low-fat or fat-free salad dressing; avoid vegetable salads made with mayonnaise; use only a sprinkling of cheese, nuts, or seeds; use legumes such as garbanzo beans or kidney beans for added protein; and fill up your bowl with fresh, plain veggies.

At lunch, visit the deli section and choose a whole-wheat pita stuffed with plenty of veggies and some lean roast beef, turkey, or ham. Add some light mayonnaise or mustard. Tuna salad or chicken salad can be high in fat and calories because it's often made with too much mayonnaise and too little tuna or chicken. If you love tuna, try getting just half a scoop at the cafeteria, then add some dry tuna from the salad bar. If you love chicken, opt for a grilled chicken breast. Top lunch off with a low-fat yogurt and/or glass of fat-free milk.

Keep the amount of protein to about 6 ounces for the entire day. For dinner, stick to entrees that are grilled, baked, steamed, broiled, stir-fried, or poached. Eat plenty of lean meat, such as skinless chicken or turkey breast, fish, and even on occasion a small portion of lean red meat. Choose less often foods that are fried, breaded, pan-fried, or full of cheese. For side dishes, head to the salad bar again and heap that plate with a garden patch of veggies with light dressing. As for side dishes, choose a baked potato with salsa or steamed vegetables more often than French fries, onion rings, hash browns, or fried potato skins. Avoid creamy soups and sauces that are loaded with saturated fat and calories. Take some fruit for snacking later, or buy canned, single-serving fruit packed in juice for late-night snack attacks.

For breakfast, try any of these food combinations:

  • Bowl of whole-grain cereal, fat-free milk, banana, and orange juice
  • Toasted bagel with peanut butter
  • Oatmeal with sliced peaches and grapefruit juice
  • Pancakes or waffles topped with sliced strawberries and a small amount of syrup, and fat-free milk
  • Hard-boiled egg, whole-wheat toast with jam, and a glass of tomato juice
  • Vegetable omelet, fresh fruit salad, and fat-free milk
  • Scrambled eggs and ham rolled in a flour tortilla, orange juice, and low-fat yogurt
Healthy choices for lunch include the following:
  • Turkey breast or lean ham sandwich on a whole-wheat bagel with mustard and baby carrots, and low-fat yogurt topped with granola
  • Baked potato topped with broccoli and salsa, an apple, and fat-free milk
  • Grilled chicken sandwich on whole-wheat pita bread with honey-mustard sauce and lettuce/tomato, low-fat yogurt, and tomato juice
  • Large tossed salad topped with low-fat or fat-free dressing, chickpeas, assorted fresh veggies and sunflower seeds, bread stick, and fresh strawberries
  • Grilled vegetables with low-fat cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla and fresh fruit cup
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-wheat bread, bowl of vegetable soup, and an orange
  • Bean soup, pita bread, side salad, and fat-free milk
Good ideas for dinner include these:
  • Grilled boneless, skinless, chicken breast topped with salsa and low-fat cheddar cheese, brown rice, green beans, and a glass of fat-free milk
  • Veggie burger on a whole-grain bun, side salad, and fresh fruit
  • Chicken burrito with salsa, side of vegetables, and an orange
  • Broiled fish, steamed vegetables, red potatoes, and angel food cake
  • Chicken fajitas with salsa and frozen yogurt
  • Vegetarian chili, side salad, and fresh fruit
  • Vegetable pizza, side salad, and fresh fruit
  • Pasta with marinara sauce and zucchini sprinkled with parmesan cheese and fruited Jell-0


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Copyright © 2002 by Kimberly A. Tessmer. Excerpted from The Everything Nutrition Book: Boost Energy, Prevent Illness, and Live Longer with permission of its publisher, Adams Media Corporation.

To order this book visit Amazon.com.


August 30, 2014



Keep it hot (or cold)! No one likes cold soup or warm, wilted salad. Use a thermos or ice pack in your child's lunch box to help keep his lunch fresh until it's time to eat.


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