The 5 Questions We Ask Everyone: Dietician, Melanie Jatsek

Melanie Jatsek is a speaker, author and registered dietitian who teaches college students how to eat to look better, feel better, think better and stress less!  She is getting ready to publish her book, written especially for college students, called “Brain Food for College Students,” so we thought we’d bring her on board to share some of her best advice with our CollegeCandies. Get to know Melanie here, then come back every week for advice on staying healthy from welcome week through finals and beyond.

5 Questions We Ask Everyone

1. What’s your favorite college memory/the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
I was a bit of a nerd in college, so I didn’t get into much trouble. (I got into enough trouble my senior year of high school and must have gotten it all out of my system.)  I would say that my favorite college memory was taking advantage of NOT going to the Ohio State University football games and going shopping!  There were no crowds and I had the whole campus to myself because everyone (except me) was at the game!

2. Name 5 things you can’t live without:
My running shoes
My Smartphone
My earplugs (when I sleep)

3. What is your favorite song to belt out in the car/at the bar/for karaoke?
Even though I am married, “Single Ladies” by Beyonce

4. What is your motto/the advice you live by?
I have two. The first is that I can choose to be happy and make the best out of any situation or complain about it and be miserable. This always helps me stay positive even during the most challenging times! The other is that everything happens for a reason.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I will have written 3 books for college students and completed my second or third college speaking tour!

5 Questions Just for Melanie

1. What do you think college girls are doing MOST wrong when it comes to their health?
Jumping on the latest “fad diet” train.  There is so much bad advice floating around out there about diet and nutrition that it can be super confusing to know what works and what doesn’t or what’s true and what’s just plain hogwash.  I’ve spoken to so many college girls who are trying fasts, high protein diets, ultra low calorie diets, etc.  Some of these can be damaging to their health and they don’t even know it!

2. What are some quick and easy things we can do now to improve our health?
There are three very easy, very basic things everyone can do to improve their health:

Eat 2 cups of vegetables every day! This is huge because not only do they fill you up and help curb your appetite, they make you feel good because you know you’ve just done something good for your body.  You’re much less likely to follow those veggies with a cupcake or chocolate chip cookie!  Vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, which are substances that protect your body from cancer and keep your skin nice and clear!  I like to take a plastic container and fill it with baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and red pepper strips.  Even if you are living in a dorm and dining in the campus dining hall, you can still get your 2 cups of veggies.  Eat a spinach salad for lunch and steamed veggies for dinner (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or whatever is offered) and you’re there!  Low sodium V8 juice counts as a vegetable serving.  It comes in packages of 6, 6-ounce cans which store easily in even the smallest dorm room.  8 ounces of V8 juice = 1 cup of vegetables!

Drink more water and less calorie-laden beverages like juice, iced tea, soda, coffee drinks.  Calories from beverages count but for some reason we can sometimes forget this.  For example, drinking a 20 ounce bottle of iced tea is just like eating a half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  They both contain 200 calories but the iced tea won’t fill you up like the sandwich will!

Get moving! Even if you can only fit in 20 minutes of exercise a day, it still counts.  We know how exercise can help manage our weight (that’s a no-brainer), but it is a HUGE stress reliever.  With all of the demands you face in college, stress will be a reality.  Exercise won’t eliminate it but can certainly help you cope with it.  Also, recent studies have shown that college students who exercise get better grades than those who don’t!


3. What is the ideal breakfast for a college girl on the go?
Anything quick and nutritious that contains carbohydrates and protein will do.  Here are 3 great ideas:
* 1 ounce of string cheese, 1 cup of dry whole grain cereal (Quaker Oatmeal Squares are yummy when eaten dry) mixed with 2 tablespoons of raisins.  Total calories:  237
* 6 ounces of yogurt mixed with 1/2 ounce of lightly salted peanuts, 1 small apple or orange.  Total calories:  279
* 1 slice of whole grain bread topped with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and 8 ounces of skim milk.  Total calories:  267

4. College girls tend to rely on coffee to get them through life. What are some healthier alternatives to give them the energy they need?
I know this is a given, but adequate sleep is SO important for extra energy and a healthy immune system.  Aim for 7-8 hours if possible.  Adequate hydration is also necessary for energy, so be sure you drink at least 40 ounces of water every day.  When you’re dehydrated you will feel sluggish. Also, exercise! When you exercise, your heart pumps more blood throughout your body.  One of the chief responsibilities of your blood is to carry oxygen and nutrients to all parts of your body.  It’s the oxygen that makes you feel more alert and energized!

Coffee isn’t the enemy.  Studies have shown that it helps to keep you mentally alert and sharp.  1 to 2 cups a day will not hurt you if you already drink it. Just watch how you order your coffee!  If it’s made with a lot of sugar (like Cafe Mochas, Frappuccinos, sweetened cappuccinos or lattes) than you may crash and burn sooner than you think!

5. Is late night eating really that bad for us?
No!  It doesn’t matter what time of day you eat.  What matters is how much you eat, what you eat and how physically active you are in a 24 hour period.  Where college students often get into trouble is when they overeat during the late night hours in an effort to stay awake to study.  Let’s say your body requires 2000 calories to stay at your current weight.  If you eat some of those calories late at night but aren’t going over 2000 calories, then you won’t gain weight.  Eating a large meal late at night can interfere with a restful sleep however, so you want to be sure that you aren’t eating and then going straight to bed.

Got some questions for Melanie? Email her: [email protected]. Or visit her online at to get some cool resources or to sign up for her FREE audio/video newsletter, “The 60 Second Spark”!

Body Blog: My First Half Marathon
Body Blog: My First Half Marathon
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