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Student Health Services at Moffitt Health Center


Eating well in college can be a challenge. With busy schedules full of classes and activities, fast food and processed ready-to-eat meals seem like a simple solution. Not only is that pattern of eating expensive, but it is also unhealthy. Aside from weight gain, an unhealthy diet can lead to chronic health conditions like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and mental health concerns. Energy levels, cognitive function, and your immune system are all dependent on you eating a healthy diet. Check out our tips in the sections below and discover how to start making healthy food and beverage choices on your way to living a healthier lifestyle. 

Start your day with breakfast.

Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals actually lowers your metabolism, causing you to burn food more slowly and it can lead to binge eating later.

Include foods from all food groups including grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, meat and beans, and fats.

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are generally low-calorie sources of many nutrients to keep you healthy.

Make your plate colorful. This will help to include many of the over 50 nutrients your body needs.

Eat healthy fats such as Omega 3 found in nuts and fish. Avoid trans fats.

Eat more frequently to avoid getting too hungry and to keep your metabolism up.

Pack healthy snacks such as fruit or crackers, or cereal bars to avoid vending machines or fast food.

Watch calorie consumption through beverages such as sodas, juices, and alcohol.

Make a shopping list that includes healthy snacks and meals and stick to it when shopping.

Avoid having sugary or fattening snacks easily available.

No matter where you eat, the same smart eating strategies apply and should guide your eating:

  • Avoid skipping breakfast or lunch to “save up” for a fancy restaurant dinner.
  • Visit a restaurant that can meet your needs.
  • Go with a “smart-eating” mindset.
  • Learn the menu language to help eat healthfully.
  • Look for foods with simple preparation.
  • Remember, the servers are there to serve you. So, have it your way.
  • Be assertive, ask questions, make special requests in advance… but be realistic.
  • Ask how food is prepared or served.
  • Find out about portion sizes.
  • Ask if you can you order “off the menu.”
  • Ask for sides or sauces to be left off plate.
  • Higher fat entrée balanced with lower fat side item.
  • If the food isn’t how your ordered it, send it back or ask for something else.
  • Help yourself. If you won’t, odds are no one else will do it for you.
  • Get “nibble foods” removed from the table.
  • Need help curbing a big appetite? Order a salad first.
  • Eat slowly so you can stop before you feel too full.
  • These are tips that can help you eat more healthfully when dining out. However, you have to choose to make the decision to order what’s best for you.

When going out to eat or even preparing food at home with a recipe, watch out for these common terms. Opt for lower fat options over those higher in fat and sodium. 

Less Fat More Fat More Sodium
Braised With cream sauce Au gratin Barbecued
Stir-fried With mayonnaise French-fried Cured
Steamed With gravy Escalloped In broth
Roasted Sautéed En croute Marinated
Poached Rich Double crust Pickled
Lightly sautéed Prime Deep-fried Smoked
Grilled Pastry  Crispy Teriyaki
Cooked in its own juices Pan-fried Creamed With cocktail sauce
Broiled Marinated (in oil) Buttered With creole sauce
Baked Hollandaise Breaded With soy sauce
  Bearnaise Battered  


Water is vital to keeping your body functioning properly and feeling healthy. Your cells, organs, and tissues all use water. In fact, your body needs water to perform the following functions: 

  • Regulates body temperature
  • Moistens tissues in the eyes, nose and mouth
  • Protects body organs and tissues
  • Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
  • Lubricates joints
  • Lessens burden the on kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products
  • Helps dissolve minerals and nutrients to make them accessible to your body

List adapted from Mayo Clinic - Water: Essential to Your Body

Water makes up approximately 60% of your body weight. Your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion. For that reason, it is important to take in a minimum of 11.5 cups of fluids for women, and 15.5 cups for men. Activity levels, current health problems, and even where you live can influence how much water you need. For example, if you exercise regularly or live in a warmer climate, you may need more fluids than the average recommendation. Keep in mind, water, other beverages, and fluids from food count towards your daily intake.

Diets are everywhere. Open a magazine or turn on the TV and someone is discussing the latest diet. Think of a diet as one of those “bad” 4-letter words, especially fad diets. Don’t do it!

What is a fad diet and how do you recognize and avoid them?

A fad diet is any quick and easy weight loss plan—any plan that promises more than 2 pounds of weight loss per week. They often have rigid meal menus or patterns. Fad diets seem trustworthy because they include “scientific claims,” personal stories and testimonials, and state they are backed by research. However, the claims are often nonscientific and unproven and the studies are poorly controlled and possibly biased. Fad diets often target or distinguish “good” and “bad” foods and sometimes rely on special products, supplements, or treatments to be successful. If a diet states it has gimmicks, gadgets, and other “miracles,” be leery—it might be a fad diet!

Fad diets are basically “very low-calorie plans” that are disguised by clever marketing gimmicks. These diets are often so low calorie that they are dangerous and unhealthy. A very low-calorie diet should only be considered with help from a physician and dietitian, and even then is not a long-term solution. Other than being risky and dangerous, fad diets are almost impossible to maintain. After a while, most people cannot maintain the strict regimen of the fad diet and return to eating how they were prior to attempting the fad diet. Then, the same problems arise that they were suffering from before—being overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

So, stick with the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”


Contact Us

Moffitt Health Center
and USM Pharmacy
Scott Hall
118 College Drive Box #5066
Hattiesburg, MS 39406

Campus Map

Phone Numbers
Clinic 601.266.5390 
Pharmacy 601.266.4075

Patient Hours 

Fall and Spring Semesters
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Fall and Spring Semesters
Monday - Friday:  
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
Clinic & Pharmacy:
Semester Breaks & Summer 
Monday - Friday:
8:30 a.m. - Noon,
1 p.m - 4:30 p.m.