Expert recommends parents talk to students heading to college about nutrition

‘There is a direct correlation between food and mood,’ dietitian says

As kids head back to school, many students will be stepping onto a college campus for the first time.

That means more independence, including meal planning. When it comes to nutrition, the impacts are far-reaching.

“There is a direct correlation between food and mood, even memory function or cognitive function,” Cristina Caro, the University Regional Dietitian and Wellness Manager for Sodexo said.

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Caro suggests parents talk to their students about the benefits of establishing regular eating patterns, including not skipping meals.

She said students should strive for three or more food groups per meal. She suggested lean protein, veggies and starches like sweet potatoes. She said vegetables and fiber feed the friendly bacteria in our guts and support immune function, which is especially important during the pandemic.

“If we have a high sugar diet or highly processed foods diet, you can have an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria which can lead to disruption in sleep, irritability and so on,” Caro said.

Caro advised indulging cravings for sweets with healthier options like dark chocolate-covered almonds. She added students should keep it simple by striving to eat five colors a week.

About the Author:

Julie Broughton's career in Central Florida has spanned more than 14 years, starting with News 6 as a meteorologist and now anchoring newscasts.