Healthy Eating for the NYU Student During the Most Stressful Time of the Year, Part I

Destiny Arturet is a Wasserman Center Graduate Assistant and a Master’s Student at Gallatin. As part of our Wellness Series, she offers some advice on healthy eating habits. And, be sure to scroll to the bottom for the latest installment of our Wasserman Playlist.

It’s no surprise to NYU students that eating and living healthy in New York City can be quite expensive and even stressful.  But as a student, you have plenty of resources on campus that can help you stay healthy, energized, and active.  As finals are approaching, we have some tips for staying in the right mindset when it comes to eating well!  Below are my first three tips. Stay tuned for tips 4-6 later this week.

1.  Know your finals schedule:

Knowing what’s to come will give you a leg up on making the right decisions. Write down your finals schedule in your calendar or enter it in the calendar on your phone.  This way, you can plan when you’re going to wake up, eat, and even exercise!  Sleep, fuel, and exercise are incredibly important during finals to keep the stress from building up.

2.  For those all-nighters:

Instead of fueling with sugary energy drinks or tons of coffee (which can be addictive!) try drinking green tea.  Although it doesn’t have as much caffeine as coffee, it is a healthier way to stay awake when you need to cram for tomorrow’s exam.  According to Lara Rondinelli, diabetes educator at Rush University, “Large quantities of caffeine are not good for anyone and even if these drinks are fortified with some vitamins this does not classify them as a health food.”  She suggests eating healthy throughout the day with lean meats, vegetables, fresh fruit, and low-fat dairy products to keep your energy up throughout the day.

3.  Avoid binge-eating under stress:

Finals can induce large amounts of unwanted stress and it’s tempting to eat your favorite foods under pressure, especially if you’re working throughout the night.  Before finals week, go grocery shopping to stock up on healthy ingredients for meals and snacks.  Here are some tips for grocery shopping:

  • Eat a snack before you venture to the grocery store!  We tend to make rash decisions when we’re hungry and we might buy food that we don’t need but look appetizing on an empty stomach.  Eat a granola bar, fresh fruit, or nuts, or have a smoothie before you leave apartment or dorm.

  • Make a list!  Making a list can be difficult if you don’t know what you want to buy.  We suggest looking up healthy recipes for meals (online or in a cookbook) and buying those ingredients.  But there are some staple pieces that you should always have on hand:

    • Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables

    • Canned vegetables and beans (great for soups)

    • Frozen fruit (great for smoothies)

    • Whole grain breads (or a gluten-free substitute if you have a food allergy)

    • Lean meats (or a vegetarian substitute if you do not eat meat)

    • Eggs (or a vegan substitute if you are dairy- and meat-free)

    • Rice or pasta

    • Cereal or rolled oats

    • Low-fat dairy products (or a vegan substitute if you are dairy-free)

  • Buy store-brand items!  They are often cheaper than the name-brand and have the exact same ingredients.

  • Make sure the ingredient list on the package is short!  This is a good way of making sure that there are no additives or preservatives in your food.  Basic rule of thumb: if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it.

  • Find the best deals!  Trader Joe’s is an excellent place to shop as a college student because it’s inexpensive (despite the terribly long lines but if you’re patient enough, they move quickly.)  If you prefer not to venture to Union Square to take on the crowds at Trader Joe’s, see what grocery stores near you are having deals.  And don’t forget to frequent your local fruit and vegetable stand.

  • Always have snacks on hand!  It’s easy to get hungry when you’re tending to last minute responsibilities and finals as the end of the year approaches.  But be sure to always have some healthy snacks in your bag to keep yourself from venturing to the nearest fast-food restaurant.  Some great options are chopped fruits and vegetables, hummus with pretzels or pita chips, granola bars, and Nabisco 100 calorie snacks.  It’s healthy for you and your wallet!

If you don’t know how to cook:

  • YouTube!  If you want to learn how to make rice, pasta, hard-boiled eggs, or baked chicken, there are cooking tutorials on YouTube. YouTube isn’t just for your beloved cat videos.

  • Ask a friend!  You most likely know a friend who has some basic cooking knowledge.  Ask him or her!

  • Learn how to use a microwave effectively!  If you don’t know how to cook or don’t have a stove, or oven there are ways to cook your favorite meals in the microwave.

If you have a meal plan:

  • Download the CampusDish Mobile App on your phone to search today’s menu.  You can search by venue, calories, nutritional information, and more!

  • Look for the “Healthy for Life” logos on campus menus to help you make better choices about your breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner!  To learn more about NYU’s Healthy for Life program, please visit their website at

  • Do a walk-through!  Scope out all of your dining options before you grab a plate.  You can make a better decision about eating healthy before you sit down for dinner!

If you have to eat fast food:

  • Make smart choices!  Instead of ordering the cheeseburger or the most loaded item on the menu, choose an item with lean meat or with greens, substitute ketchup or mustard for mayonnaise, and drink water (it’s free)!

As promised, here are some more musical selections, with a particular emphasis on the “Bons”.

Destiny Arturet, Wasserman Center Graduate Assistant: Anything off of the Bon Iver, Bon Iver album is great and highly recommended.

Gracy Sarkissian, Associate Director: Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” in honor of New Jersey!

Lauren Lipsky, Manager of Alumni Career Programs: Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer”. I think it has a great rocker beat that can get people moving to action, whether in school, work or personal lives.

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