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Food & Nutrition

Nutrition is the food intake necessary to support life. It is very important for college students to have a healthy diet, in order to prevent many health problems and stay healthy individuals.

WHAT is nutrition?

Nutrition is the supply of materials needed by the body to function normally. It deals with how the body breaks down food and repairs cells, known as metabolism. It is the study of the nutrients in foods, how the body uses these nutrients, and the overall role of nutrition in health and diet. There are six classes of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, vitamins and water. Check out the LiveStrong website for more specific information on the six main food groups.

WHO should eat healthy?

Caltech students should eat healthy. Chandler Café and Caltech Dining Services offer plenty of nutritious options. For example, if you can’t find any food that you like, be creative. Combine foods from different areas of the dining hall and try different options until you find ones that you like best. If you are vegetarian, try the vegetarian entrees, such as veggie burgers and pasta dishes. Make your own vegetarian meals with protein-rich ingredients. Keep your dorm rooms stocked with healthy snacks for late-night studying. Healthy options include animal crackers, fresh fruit, granola bars, cereal, nuts, oatmeal, trail mix, soup, water, yogurt and string cheese. You can find all these snacks at the Caltech C-Store, open at convenient hours throughout the day.

WHEN should you eat healthy?

Students at Caltech should be mindful of what they eat. Studies show that students who eat breakfast perform better in school. Skipping breakfast is a bad idea; contrary to popular belief, people who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight than those who skip breakfast because breakfast keeps your metabolism running. Open kitchen in the North/South houses serves breakfast from 7:30am–11:30am. You can find a variety of fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, bananas, oranges and apples. Try and refrain from sugary cereals and choose the healthy options; add in some walnuts, cranberries, raisins and low-fat milk to make an even healthier meal. Breakfast should include protein and fiber, keeping your full until lunch-time. Whole grain toast and fruit juice, as well as oatmeal, are other great options available during open-kitchen hours. Starting off your day with a great breakfast will give you better concentration and more energy for the brain to get through all your classes and sets! It will also urge you to wake up before noon.

Food is the fuel your brain needs to help you think. For lunch, you can grab food at Chandler Café, the South Kitchens or the C-Store. There are a number of options at Chandler, including make-your-own salads, a sushi bar and healthy sandwiches. The Dining Services website gives a menu of the different stations at Chandler. Consider what you have eaten one day for lunch, and remember to add variety to your diet for the rest of the week. It is ok to have pizza for lunch one day of the week, but make sure not to overdo it. Give everything a try, but remember to stay healthy! At the C-Store, be careful not to overindulge in all the snacks and goodies. These snacks are okay to have once in a while, such as when cramming for late-night tests or grabbing something quick to eat, but be sure that healthy choices are made. Look at the nutritional facts on the label of every product if you are unsure.

For dinner, enjoy the house dinners. There are a variety of vegetarian, vegan and regular options. Take the portions that you need and do not overeat. Dinner is a time to catch up with friends and make sure that you take this time to enjoy yourself. Eat the vegetables that are served that day, as well as the main course. Make your own salad or sandwich in the kitchen if you do not like what’s on the menu. As for dessert, do not overdo it but make choices about what you would like to eat. Grab fruit from the kitchen and drink healthy drinks.

For the weekends, you can always find healthy places to eat in Pasadena. Try these places for healthy meals: Jamba Juice, Juice it Up, Souplantation, Zankou Chicken, or Subway. If you go to other fast-food places, such as Chipotle, Panda Express or Carl’s Junior, watch what you order, and try to go for the healthier options. If you want to have some fun with your friends, you could cook something in the kitchen. Get your ingredients from Trader Joe’s, Pavilions, or one of Pasadena's several farmers markets, and make it an awesome cooking experience; know what goes into your food! If you are vegan or vegetarian, the Happy Cow website has a couple places to start you off.

Always make time for meals, because eating three meals a day plus snacks will give you enough energy to last all day, keeping your metabolism active. Find every opportunity to eat healthy. When grabbing for that extra cookie or cake, ask yourself if you really need it, or if it would be better to grab for a healthier option. The choice is yours.

If you would like help on whether you are eating right for college, you can always contact the Caltech Health Center for additional tips on healthy eating and nutrition.

WHY eat healthy?

Use campus services to help you maintain good nutrition because eating healthy is only one aspect of living a good college life. Balance your meals to give yourself the proper nutrition needed to stay healthy. Eat a combination of the six food groups throughout the day to keep this balance. Remember your dairy products, such as soymilk and cheese to give yourself enough calcium for strong bones. Drink enough water for healthy skin; always keep a bottle of water with you. Take appropriate portions at the dining hall and during dinner, making sure you are able to comfortably finish what you get. Use this chart to help you re-evaluate your choices in the dining hall.

Foods to Choose at Mealtimes

Instead Of


Fried foods

Grilled or baked foods

Refined grains (such as white bread and white rice)

Whole grains (such as whole wheat bread and brown rice)

Whole milk

Low-fat milk or soy milk

French fries

Baked potato or sweet potato

Sweetened drinks

Water or seltzer

Sweetened desserts (such as cookies, cake, or ice cream)



Nutrition 101: The Food Groups

Food Group


Nutrition Tip

Dairy & Dairy Substitutes

Build strong bones.

Have a serving of low-fat dairy such as milk, cheese, yogurt, or pudding 3 times a day.


Provide energy for muscles & brain.

Include grains such as rice, pasta, and bread at every meal. Choose whole grain options as often as possible.


Keep you feeling full.

Include some fat such as olive oil, guacamole, nuts, or seeds at every meal.

Fruits & Vegetables

Provide vitamins and minerals for healthy skin, hair, nails, and immune system.

Try having at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables such as apples, broccoli, pears, carrots, squash, or salad per day.


Maintain muscle.

Try having fish, beans, eggs, tofu, peanut butter, chicken, or lean beef at 2 meals per day.