Published: Oct. 9, 2023

Students at a dining hallWhat you eat is personal, and your nutritional needs may differ from others' depending on your health, activity level and goals. While there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, here are a few ways to help ensure you get the nutrients your body needs whether eating on campus, at home or dining out. 

Review nutrition basics 

Understanding the basics of nutrition can help you develop healthy habits to maintain balanced energy levels, promote immune health and support your overall well-being. A balanced diet includes a combination of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and protein.  

As a busy college student, eating regular meals and snacks can help you maintain focus and give you the energy you need to stay active and succeed academically. When choosing meals or snacks, aim for something that has a combination of lean protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats to provide you with lasting energy.  

If you want to learn more about creating a balanced diet tailored for you, Campus Dining Services and Nutrition Services offer consultations with registered dietitian nutritionists and other resources. 

Keep it colorful 

A colorful plate helps ensure that you’re eating foods with a variety of vitamins and minerals to help you meet your daily intake. If you’re looking to add more nutrients, try adding fruits and vegetables to your plate. For example, you could make a salad with spinach, bell peppers, black beans, radishes and carrots. Or you could choose a side of broccoli or green beans and a whole grain to accompany a main dish. You can also add fruit to your meals, like an apple, orange or berries as a side or dessert. 

Eating a variety of foods can add more nutrients to your diet to promote memory, increase energy and regulate moods, all of which can help college students thrive. 

Know your body 

Because everyone has unique nutritional needs, paying attention to how you feel when you eat different foods is essential. Also, consider the times that you feel hungry throughout the day. Do you need to adjust when you eat meals or add a snack to help keep your energy up until your next meal? While noticing when you are hungry is important, it’s just as valuable to notice when you are full. 

Practice being mindful and listening to your body. You may benefit from eating five small meals daily instead of the traditional three. You may also find you haven’t been eating enough to feel satisfied or need to eat less at certain meals to avoid feeling too full during your next class or while studying. 

Knowing your body’s cues can help you better manage your nutritional needs. If you need support, Nutrition Services can provide information and guidance for intuitive eating. 

Maintain balance 

While meeting your nutritional needs is important, so is finding a balance. Keep in mind that food isn’t just about the energy you consume. Food can also serve as a way to connect with your culture, connect with others and experience enjoyment. It’s also important to remind yourself that you don’t need to eat “perfectly” to eat well. 

Instead of relying on stringent rules around food and nutrition, try finding creative ways to add a little extra nutritional value to your meals. For example, you can satisfy your sweet tooth and up your vitamin intake by adding a scoop of berries to soft-serve ice cream at the dining center. You could also add vegetables or a salad to your favorite dishes like pasta or pizza. 

The goal of improved nutrition is to fuel your experience as a college student and not add stress about what you are eating. So have fun with your food and try different things to see what works best for you.  

Find support  

CU Boulder offers resources to help students meet their nutritional needs.