Healthy eating at UTM

University life can bring many changes and challenges, but for many students, a healthy diet is not high on the list of priorities. Skipping meals to save money or eating fast food every day to save time means that many UTM students are not eating well.

But eating breakfast can help improve concentration and grades. The average Canadian university student (both male and female) gains an average of 3 kg (6.6 lb) in their first year on campus. Paying attention to eating habits is an important part of feeling good and doing your best at university.

Luckily for UTM students, there is a new (free!) service in the Health & Counselling Centre located in the Davis Building. A registered dietitian is on staff to help students create a personalized healthy eating plan and discuss how making healthier food choices can help them succeed at UTM.

Dietitian Kimberly Green sees students for one-on-one nutritional counselling appointments at UTM, and notices the challenges that students face in eating well at university. Students who are on their own for the first time and not used to choosing or cooking their own meals and snacks are especially prone to poor eating habits.

As well, said Green, “A lot of students really suffer from stress and anxiety during university. A heavy workload and pressure to succeed can affect your appetite, and so some students start to skip breakfast and even lunch, or just drink coffee instead of eating”. Skipping meals can lead to poor concentration, fainting, dizzy spells, and in the long term, nutritional deficiencies. “Choosing healthy foods and eating regular meals and snacks is more important than ever during the years at university,” she adds.

Green also says that skipping meals can actually contribute to weight gain in some students. “Skipping meals and not making time for exercise are both habits that some students get into—which can lower your metabolism,” Green explains. “That, combined with large amounts of cortisol in the body (a hormone produced during times of stress) can lead to weight gain—even in students who don’t eat any more than they usually would.”

Choosing healthy meals and snacks whether at home or on campus and taking advantage of the fitness facilities on campus can both lead to a healthier university experience.

A talk with a dietitian can include topics such as developping a healthy eating plan, maintaining a healthy body weight, vegetarian/vegan diets, food allergies, lactose intolerance, healthy eating on a budget, better food choices on campus, proper nutrition for sports performance, and special diets for specific conditions (for example, diabetes or high blood pressure).

UTM students can make an appointment with the dietitian by visiting the nurse or doctor at the Health & Counselling Centre on campus, or by calling (905) 828-5255.

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