What is a healthy diet? This question will have different answers for different people.
Social habits and cultural norms have a huge influence on the way people perceive food, and therefore eating habits in general. "Sunday is for family, and we all eat meatballs with pasta. On Thanksgiving we must eat turkey. Coffee is the only thing that will wake me up in the morning. I always get pizza on Saturdays," and so on.
These are just a few examples of how habits that are not directly food-related can shape eating patterns, which in turn influence entire lifestyles.
The Commons, any Illinois Tech student’s favorite place to be, is the where most on-campus students have their meals. Despite the general negative opinions, no matter where one is from, the Commons allows anyone to follow a healthy diet if the will is there.
A healthy diet, generally speaking, is a balanced and varied diet. Considering that a person should aim for the most nutritious meals at a reasonable amount of calories in order to develop healthy eating habits, the Commons actually provides a significant amount of healthy choices.
There are six groups of nutrients, from which we should try to eat a certain amount of foods every day. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are the nutrients that gives us energy. Red meats, dairy products, cereals, cheese, and bread are some examples of foods that can fit in one of these nutrient categories. Vitamins, minerals, and water are defined as micronutrients, because we need them in smaller quantities than carbs, fats, and protein. However, micronutrients are just as essential in supporting tissue growth, regulating body functions, and maintain a good metabolism. It is important that we get vitamin rich products every day, as some vitamins (namely vitamin C and vitamin B) are not stored in the body for long amounts of times and therefore we might be deficient of them at various point in time.
The Commons offers a significant amount of fruit and vegetables choices every day. There’s tomatoes, onions, carrots, salad, apples, bananas, and lettuce available at every meal. Similarly, cereals and yogurt are always available. Varying these foods and combining them in creative ways can significantly improve the diet of any student at Illinois Tech. Bread, cereals, pasta, and rice are also available at all times in various forms. Watching the amount of these foods one consumes can be useful in maintaining a balanced diet.
A good eating habit consists in making sure one is eating a colorful plate. The more colorful the plate, the more balanced your diet will be. Green and red fruits are extremely rich in vitamins, which are critical to building and maintaining bone and muscle. High-carb foods are usually white, fruit will always add a touch of color, and some meat will provide protein and some darker shades to your plate.
Another useful point to reflect on: trying to get as much vegetables as carbs could significantly improve your physical and mental wellness, and the Commons allows for this. However, the amount of red meats and fried foods easily available in The Commons can be distracting. Clearly these are among the most attractive foods, as they rely on your sense of olfaction and social instincts, which for some facilitate associations between this foods and collectivity. Simply paying attentions to portions and varying the kinds of foods you get will improve your health and will help you to establish a more positive correlation between health and eating in the Commons.