Nutritionist Dr. Jennifer Zander Answers Students’ Questions on Health

Following a healthy diet is a difficult task for many IMSA students. | Source:

In the aftermath of  Halloween candy collections, seniors’ dreaded November 1st, sophomores’ first few months of adjustment, and juniors’… well whatever is stressing out the juniors, now is a great time to refocus some time to your health! Of course, there are so many different resources to learn about nutrition, but in hopes of relieving the chaos of online searching, I thought it would make things a little simpler if I interviewed a dietitian, Dr. Jennifer Zander,  from my local hospital about IMSA kids specifically. Here’s what she had to say:


What does eating healthy eating and nutrition mean to you?

“Balance! Make sure that you eat protein, carbs, fruits and vegetables. Dairy isn’t essential, but hydration is.

For protein, you should try to eat at least 0.8g-1g per kg of your ideal weight. Your ideal weight is based on height, age, and gender and can easily be calculated online. It’s more detrimental to go under than over in protein. Protein is so important because it heals and fights infections, gives you energy through the Krebs cycle, repairs muscle, and more. Of course chicken is a great source, but if you are vegetarian soy protein and pea protein supplements also work. 

Things you could probably find at school that are a good source of protein would be beans, scrambled eggs, milk, and tofu. Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, hummus, and peanut butter are all great snacks that also are good sources.

For fruits and vegetables eat at least five a day at any time. If you get a big salad that could count as two servings. Make it a goal to always have at least one fruit or vegetable on your plate for meals. Fruit has a lot of sugar but people usually don’t eat enough so that isn’t a concern. Fruit unlike artificial sugar contains water, fiber, minerals, and won’t spike insulin or blood sugar.

In order to reduce processed food, try not to order too often and keep snacks in your room. Grocery store trips can help you restock on healthy snacks like yogurt, nut butter, and apples.

Most people know that they need to eat a balanced diet and lots of fruits and vegetables, whole foods, less processed foods, and to move more. It’s making it a priority and taking the time to integrate those foods that’s usually the challenge. What are tips or small changes IMSA students can make to their diet that don’t require the most amount of time? Or why should students should prioritize their health?

“The better you eat the better you do in school because your brain will be able to function better; make a list of foods you want and do the work ahead of time. Check on the app Bite to know what you want to eat before coming. And on the weekend’s plan! Meal prepping two healthy dinners for the week is a great start. Prepping allows you to avoid bad choices. Pinterest is a great place to find recipes. 

However, don’t worry about your weight or numbers. Learning a healthy lifestyle is far more important. Also, it’s okay to eat unhealthy from time to time, you have enough to worry about!”

While these questions are fairly general, I hope they inspired you to change up your eating a bit. Next weekend, maybe go to woodman’s and whip up a new treat, like some frozen banana ice cream topped with walnuts and peanut butter or whatever entices you on Pinterest. As the doctor said, “eating healthy foods doesn’t have to taste bad, have fun with your cooking!”


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