College presents many challenges to eating healthy. Food options in dining halls are often plentiful and it can be difficult to make the best choices for your body and nutritional needs. Additionally, college can be stressful and it is easy for many students to turn to food as a way deal with stress.
Intuitive Eating is an approach that has strong research support for its ability to help people eat in a healthy manner. Intuitive Eating addresses how and why we eat, rather than what we eat, and involves several important steps.
- Eat when you are hungry
- Eat what you are hungry for
- Taste every bite
- Stop when you are full
The process of Intuitive Eating sounds easy, right? Actually, for college students it can be really challenging to eat only when hungry and to taste each bite given hectic class and work schedules. Financial limitations may also make it difficult for students to always have access to the foods they desire. Lastly, college students may be studying or meeting with friends while they eat which may distract them from noticing when they are hungry full. Strive to eat one meal a day intuitively. During this meal, thoughtfully choose the foods that you will eat based on your desires and nutritional needs. Eat away from distractions such as the TV or internet. Focus on tasting the food and checking in with yourself whether you are full.
It is possible to eat intuitively while in college but mastering this approach takes time. Check out intuitiveeating.org or “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.
If you are struggling to overcome an eating problem, help is available. The Counseling Center can help you to find different ways to cope with emotions or stressors without turning to food. We offer programs on improving your body image and healthy weight management throughout the academic year. Programs include Mindful Eating, Nutrition for Exercise Performance, and Diet Busters. The Counseling Center also offers an online educational group entitled Student Bodies©.
Dr. Jamie Fenton