Fitting in Fitness: 3 Small Steps to Better Nutrition

By Rose Nguyen

Putting wholesome food into our bodies is every bit as important as being active. But with all of our classes, homework, and extracurricular activities, good nutrition requires planning ahead. How can you prevent yourself from resorting to eating out of the vending machine or at a fast food place regularly? Alicia Sego (Sophomore, Neuroscience), Shahista Lakhani (Sophomore, Computational Biology), and Jacy Anthis (Junior, Neuroscience) offer some insight.

1. Pack snacks

Having healthy food on hand puts you in control. Waiting until you are starving to eat can lead to bad food decisions and binging on whatever food is available, so pack nutritious items for the day as a preventative step. When asked what types of snacks she likes to pack, Shahista states that “[she] likes to buy things that come in snack sizes… [like] mini oranges, mini packages of carrots, string cheese, Pop-Tarts, pretzels, and animal crackers.”

Jacy also comments on the topic of bringing food on busy days. “Sometimes I pack snacks, but that's because I don't have many breaks during the day. I have an extremely high metabolism and it becomes painful for me to go more than 2-4 hours without eating.” He believes that “bringing your own food is definitely good for cost, health, and ethics.”

2. Ditch processed food in favor of whole foods

What are whole foods? Think chicken breast versus chicken nuggets, or apples versus apple juice. 

Eating food in its natural state often offers more nutrition, because intact food is loaded with vitamins and fiber. According to WebMD, studies have found that diets full of whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, are associated with reduced rates of cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. 

Alicia states that she has a “passion for tropical foods” and accredits some of her inspiration to her Colombian boyfriend, whose family taught her to eat avocados with lime juice. She often walks to the Wheatsville Co-op on Guadalupe because “they have AWESOME pineapple, berries and mangoes.” Alicia also recommends Fiesta for great prices on pre-cut fruit.

3. Plan ahead

Planning ahead makes the complicated task of coordinating food that much simpler! If you are avoiding certain food items due to allergies or dietary preferences, planning is essential for adhering to your goals. 

Shahista plans out her eating routine on a weekly basis. “I go grocery shopping once every week or every other week. I eat on campus once or twice a week and usually at the SAC or the Union. I plan my food based on what I'm running out of and make a list based off of that. Sometimes, if there's something that I want to make particularly, like a curry, I'll make a list of those ingredients as well. I try to eat nutritiously by consuming protein, a fruit, and milk or juice for at least one of my meals a day.”

For some with special diets, planning may be even more essential. However, Jacy is a vegetarian who does not necessarily have limited options on campus, thanks to our particularly diet-friendly University. “If I didn't want to bring my own food to work/school, I would be able to eat at any place that meat-eaters could eat at. I don't think I’ve found anywhere around UT that doesn't offer some sort of vegetarian option.”

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