Feed your body, fuel your mind

Despite the lure of junk food and convenient snack items, college students can practice healthy eating habits. Here are some tips from registered dietitian Sohailla Digsby of Waccamaw (S.C.) Health District’s Health Promotion Team.

* Breakfast helps fuel your mind and body for optimum work. Stay away from foods in the morning that are mostly simple sugars such as Pop Tarts and doughnuts. The body too quickly uses up sugary fuel in these items. Include food with fiber and protein. If you’re in a hurry, grab a banana and a breakfast bar.

* Avoid going longer than four to five hours without eating. Pack a piece of fruit, breakfast bar or sandwich in your knapsack just in case you don’t have time for a full meal.

* Carry a bottle of water to sip and refill throughout the day. Water is a better choice than visiting soda machines every time you’re thirsty.

* When snacking during study time, skip candy bars, ice cream, fries and potato chips. Choose lower-fat snacks such as pretzels, bagels and sherbet. Nichole Beckel, dietetic intern with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, recommends these snack ideas: veggie sticks, graham crackers, light popcorn, whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk, granola bars, nuts, tuna and crackers, instant oatmeal, and smoothies.

Care-package traps

Parents, care packages are good ways to encourage children to eat well.

However, most people usually send junk food because it’s easier, said Ann Litt, author of “The College Student’s Guide to Eating Well on Campus.” Here are some alternatives to sweets and candy-laden care packages.

* Sign your child up for a fruit of the month club. A variety of companies offer baskets or packages featuring a different fruit collection each month. Visit www.gofruit.com or www.thefruitcompany.com.

* Send a magazine instead of food. Students will enjoy entertaining reading to take their minds off heavier school material.

* Relaxing gifts such as yoga class coupons, hand creams or other stress-reducing products are good substitutes for food.

* It’s OK to send some sweet items. One batch of brownies won’t hurt your child. Just don’t create an entire package of desserts and junk food.

* Nonperishable items such as nuts, dried fruit, crackers, granola bars and popcorn make nice additions to care packages.

* See whether your child’s school offers pre-made care package services. Many colleges offer various choices throughout the year. Usually, dining service offices are in charge of the packages. The University of South Carolina, for example, offers a special exam-time pack with coffee, power bars, popcorn and a chocolate candy bar.