NutritionThe three leading causes of death in the United States, coronary heart disease, some types of cancer, and stroke, are directly linked to dietary behavior. Poor diets can greatly increase one’s risk of disease. Eating a balanced diet has a number of potential benefits that include a boost in energy, clear complexion, better sleep, and maintenance of a healthy weight.

The saying “you are what you eat” rings true when it comes to the impact of nutrition on health. What we choose to put into our bodies will greatly influence our feelings, moods, and energy levels, how we perform mentally in school and work, and sometimes the way we look. Making changes and healthy choices now can have a lasting effect on long-term health.

MyPlate Guide

The MyPlate Guide is the current nutrition guide published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and focuses on proper proportions for specific food categories. For most people, a healthy diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and grains on three quarters of the plate with a protein rich food on one quarter of the plate. The specific categories, tips and examples of each are listed below. USDA GuidelinesOpens in a new window

  • Some healthy options for drinks are low fat or skim milk, 100% fruit juice that is not from concentrate, or water.
  • Carbohydrates / grains: the body’s primary source of energy to the brain, muscles, and other tissues. This can include bread, rice, quinoa, and other grains.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: “Nature’s Multivitamin,” as they contain important vitamins and minerals.  Eating a variety of colors will ensure good nutrition.
  • Protein rich foods: meats, beans, eggs, and nuts.  Fish, turkey, and chicken are healthier choices than beef and pork because they have a similar amount of protein but less saturated fat.

get balanced!

Columbia Health’s nutrition initiative, get balanced!, is a collaboration with Alice! Health Promotion, the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), and Dining Services. Nutrition efforts include changes to the visibility of fruits in dining locations, recommendations for healthy choices in vending machines, and support for making healthy food choices on and off campus.

For more information about eating healthy specifically at Columbia University, check out the Guide for Healthier Eating. It contains information on the following topics:

  • Eating healthy in on-campus dining halls
  • Essential vitamins and minerals (and where to get them)
  • Vegetarian and vegan dining
  • Balanced Choices(TM) program for on-campus vending machines
  • Eating healthy in neighborhood restaurants
  • Nutrition resources

For more information on nutrition, healthy recipes, and healthy shopping lists, check out the get balanced! guides located in the Relevant Links section of this webpage. For more information on eating healthy on campus, visit Columbia Dining. Columbia students on the Morningside Campus can make an appointment with a nutritionist at Medical Services by logging in to Open Communicator or calling (212) 854-7426.


Last updated March 24, 2015