Kelsey Coney (left) and Ashley Audycki (right) represent Isla Vista Food Co-op at a Nutrition Week table at Carrillo Dining Commons.

Kelsey Coney (left) and Ashley Audycki (right) represent Isla Vista Food Co-op at a Nutrition Week table at Carrillo Dining Commons.

For many of us, college means eating a bag of Doritos between classes because you don’t have enough time for a real meal, and drowning in coffee during late night study sessions. Many students struggle with eating healthy and do not get their recommended doses of daily nutrition. This month, though, students have the opportunity to learn about foods they are consuming and how to make a switch to eating better.

Danielle Kemp, R.D., a Dining Services Dietician, said that common misconception is that students need to eliminate their favorite foods in order to fulfill a nutritious diet.

“People might think they need to eliminate certain foods from their diet because they are bad for you, but I think it is important to be mindful of what you are consuming and achieve a balance of all foods,” Kemp said. “I do not think there is a number one; it is a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. They are very important for different reasons.”

Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics organizes a nutrition education campaign, called National Nutrition Month. The purpose of this campaign is to inform people of all age groups about the importance of establishing beneficial exercise habits and healthy food choices. This year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” to promote consuming an appropriate amount of calories in order to reduce chronic diseases.

To celebrate, UCSB Housing and Residential Services is conducting a Nutrition Week from March 4 to March 8 to educate students on adopting better eating habits and incorporating more nutritious foods into their meals. A different food category — fruits, vegetables, protein, low fat dairy or whole grains — is highlighted every day. The tabling at Ortega, De La Guerra, Carrillo and Portola includes food demos, question and answer sessions and opportunities to talk to a nutritionist.

Kemp developed the programs Gaucho Right Bite and Gaucho Right Meal to encourage healthier eating choices.

“Gaucho Right Bite identifies the healthiest option at the dining commons, and Gaucho Right Meal is a recommended meal for each dining common for each meal period,” Kemp said. “So if a student does not know what is healthy or does not have the time to figure it out for themselves, we have those resources available to them.”

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be a consideration for college students right alongside school, work and extracurricular activities. Remembering to pack a healthy snack for the middle of the day or night can make a positive impact on the mind and body. National Nutrition Month can be your start to a healthier future.