With this sudden winter chill coming upon us, and random spurts of snowfall, it is likely that our diets will change. Studies have shown that people tend to eat more in the winter when it is cold out. Unfortunately, college students do not escape this trend. For some reason, when we’re freezing on the way back from class, a hot grilled cheese and soup from the Cafe sounds like heaven, and chances are, we don’t even consider the calories or fat content like we would during bikini season. And let’s not kid ourselves: Attendance at the gym dramatically decreases in the cold weather. Here are a few tips for staying healthy during this “frigid fall” and winter on campus.
1. Stay away from cream-based soups. These delicious soups are anything but healthy, and they are filled with calories regardless of their clever and deceiving vegetable names. Specifically on campus, broccoli cheddar, baked stuffed potato and New England clam chowder have made their way to the soup section in Quinnipiac’s cafeteria. According to the Au Bon Pain nutritional facts, these soups contain between 200 and 500 calories, the fat content begins at 10 grams and only gets worse from there. This is due to the fact that these soups are made with thick, heavy cream, which is even more fattening than it sounds. Basically, stay away from any soup title starting with “Cream of.” Instead, choose something that is broth-based like chicken noodle, black bean, vegetable or minestrone. Considering that most soups have a high sodium content, the broth-based soups are the healthiest choice to make.
2. Choose tea or coffee over hot chocolate or other coffee mixes, like French vanilla. Once again, these “perfect for cold weather” drinks are high in fat content because they consist of heavy cream or whole milk. Coffee and tea are water-based, which dramatically decrease the calorie content. But keep in mind that what you add to these healthy alternatives can turn them unhealthy. Obviously adding half and half or whole milk to your coffee ups the calories so stick to two percent milk or skim, and adding more than a tablespoon of honey to your tea automatically adds at least 60 calories to your drink so use it sparingly. Green tea and other flavored teas have next-to-no calories.
3. Make sure you still get a full serving of fruits and vegetables. Regardless of the season, getting a full serving of both fruits and vegetables everyday is necessary for living a healthy lifestyle. For the colder months, steamed veggies are the warmest way to get your vegetables. When vegetables are steamed, there is no added fat. To put it simply, vegetables are hot, soft and have a lot more flavor compared to when they’re not cooked. As for fruits, take advantage of what’s in season. Apple picking takes place in the fall for a reason. Along with apples, clementines and pears are also in season. Fruits and veggies are the healthiest way to curb your appetite, keeping you full for a long period of time. When you’re hungry late in the afternoon, grab a piece of fruit for a quick healthy snack. This not only saves calories, but will hold you over at least until dinnertime.
4. Fried foods are still bad. Just because it is cold out and all we want is hot food, chicken fingers and fries do not become healthy. There are many alternatives to fried food in the Cafe. Stick to foods that are grilled or steamed because they contain less fattening oil and grease. Even pizza is a healthier alternative to fried food. If you’re used to eating these foods daily, try to cut back to three times a week and replace your other meals with a non-fried alternative. Your arteries, heart and body will thank you.
5. Load up on the fiber. Start your day out right with a hearty, filling breakfast to jumpstart your metabolism. Oatmeal is packed with filling fiber and whole grains, and it is the perfect warm breakfast to eat in the midst of the cold weather. There are instant oatmeal packets hat can be heated up right in your dorm room.
6. Don’t overindulge. Just because we’re wearing sweatpants and jeans more often now, doesn’t mean there is an excuse to excessively overeat. Keep everything in moderation. The holidays are coming up, which will be more of a temptation to eat fattening foods that you would not consume normally. Have a game plan and know your limit.
7. The Recreation Center is still open in the cold. It might seem difficult to bring yourself to the gym in this frigid weather if you’re not used to it, but it’s worth it once you’re there. If you don’t prefer the treadmill or elliptical, there are great classes offered like pilates, yoga and toning. Keeping in shape in the winter will only make your transition to “spring training” easier. If you are not used to working out a lot, start out two or three times a week with some cardio and toning exercises like crunches and lunges.