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Trying to get college kids to eat right

Got kids or grandkids who just started college? Then know this: Most college kids don't eat even one serving of fruits and vegetables a day, let alone the five (minimum!) they really need.

Instead, male college students skip breakfast and load up on fat and protein at fast-food joints. Females skip fewer meals and eat a little better, but have even fewer fruits and veggies than guys because they just eat less overall.

Not shocked? Neither were we.

Stumped about what to do? Don't lecture; you know how well that works. Instead, try these tips:

Emphasize the social benefits of eating right, not the personal ones. When college kids took a course on how they could help curb global warming by eating more locally grown fruits and vegetables -- and less meat, processed and trucked-in foods -- it worked. They changed their eating habits more dramatically than if they were just told it was nutritious.

Let them know that healthy foods boost moods. Kids get homesick and stress out over exams, roommates, tough profs, new loves. Explain that many fruits and veggies (bananas especially, and kiwi, pineapple, plums, corn, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach) increase levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin without fueling the dreaded "freshman 15" pounds of weight gain that commonly affects first-year students. Could work.

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