Three of the leading causes of death in the United States—coronary heart disease, some types of cancer, and stroke—are linked to diet. Poor eating habits can greatly increase the risk of chronic disease. Following a balanced pattern of eating has a number of other potential benefits that include a boost in energy, better sleep quality, 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.

Decisions about what to eat to fuel your body may influence emotions, mood, energy levels, and cognitive performance. Making changes and healthy choices now can have a lasting effect on long-term health.


The most recent dietary guidelines published by the United States Department of Agriculture focus on making lifelong, balanced food and beverage choices and staying physically active. Having a diet that includes a variety of nutrients and getting recommended amounts of physical activity can help reduce the risk of chronic disease for individuals of all ages:

  • Choose a variety of nutrient-rich foods from different food groups. This may include whole fruit, colorful vegetables, white grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, fortified soy beverages, a variety of protein foods, and oils.
  • Keep calories consumed from added sugars and saturated fats to ten percent of calories each per day.
  • Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet to less than 2,300 milligrams per day.


Alice! Health Promotion provides a number of resources to help students make healthier food choices:

Columbia Dining is also a great source of information on healthy eating. Students on the Morningside campus who have specific nutrition concerns can make an appointment with a dietician at Medical Services online or by calling 212-854-7426.