Munchie mistakes: How to avoid common dietary issues as new students

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Freshman year at UC Berkeley passes by like a blur, wherein taking out even a few moments to “think before you eat” is placed lower than lowest on your priority list. Sadly though, two whole semesters of being unwary is enough time to cause significant damage to your overall health.

In order to help you make better choices in the coming months, we identified the key problem areas in a typical student’s daily diet.

Relying way too much on bagels for breakfast:

As much as you’d like to believe that a latte with a cream cheese “whole wheat” bagel suffices as a fulfilling, nutritious breakfast, that notion is far from the actual truth. While it may be very convenient to just dash in and out of the Den or Golden Bear Cafe with these items, the fact is that they aren’t in tandem with the fundamental principle “eat breakfast like a king.”

Unless you sit down in the dining commons to ensure you get your portion of whole fruit,  two eggs, a bowl of yogurt, toasted wholegrain bread with a topping of your choice, a healthy smoothie and some cooked greens, it is truly hard to acquire all the nutrients needed to kickstart your day.

Top tip: When you have an 8 a.m. lecture to catch, eating a balanced breakfast can often fall by the wayside. So to stay satiated until mid morning, carry along to class a plastic box pre-filled the night before with unsweetened granola and yogurt. Then, once you have some time in between, you can peacefully sit down and eat a hearty breakie.

Munching all too often on M&M-filled trail mixes:

As you begin to tackle complicated assignments with looming deadlines, it will become incredibly easy to stress eat a quarter pack of trail mix all at once. In doing so, it’s easy to forget that any commercially produced, packaged food is bound to contain a range of artificial flavorings and preservatives (especially if it has M&Ms).

The perfect solution? Head out to Costco or Trader Joe’s at the start of fall semester and pick up large packs of your favorite nuts and dried fruits. This way, you can prepare your own, tailor-made trail mix, keeping in mind any allergies you may have.

Top tip: There are hundreds of different trail mix recipes available online to provide you with much-needed inspiration. We recommend, however, you keep three things constant: potassium rich dates, magnesium-filled dried apricots and brain-boosting walnuts!

Assuming that the only fruits left in the world are bananas:

Once you set foot on campus, someone will ensure you realize the un-environmentally friendly nature of imported bananas. From a nutritional aspect too, this go-to, mono-cultured fruit does have its limitations.

At first, it may seem very simple: A medium-sized banana is perfectly handy way to acquire an energy boost and a good amount of potassium. How complicated can it be?

Consuming a variety of fruits preferably fresh and not frozen will help you feel a little less “mono-cultured” on the inside too.

Top tip: Recently, the Golden Bear Cafe has started stocking a more diverse range of fruits than before. Spending your meal points on them will not just save you time but also helps you initially expand your regular diet. Once you have made it a habit to eat at least three fruits a day, it will be easier to visit Berkeley’s Farmer’s Market to stock up your refrigerator for the week ahead.

Contact Heeral Shivnani at [email protected].