The dreaded “freshman fifteen.” You’ve probably heard this phrase countless times. Fortunately, today’s studies are showing that this phenomenon may be more myth than truth. Still, many college students worry about gaining weight through unhealthy habits.
These days, there’s a huge focus on maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle, but we get that you’re just trying to survive. You have your classes, sorority, and social life all demanding your time and attention.
Keeping in mind the unique money and time constraints of a college student, we’ve put together seven tips for how to eat healthy in college. Read on for some delicious and motivating inspiration.
1 – Master the Dining Hall
If you’re living on campus, you probably have an account to use for eating at the dining halls. These places are full of temptations that make healthy eating for college students super challenging.
But if your dining hall has a salad bar and various protein options, you can create delicious, healthy meals anytime.The salad bar seems obvious, but so many people load their plates with raw veggies and then wonder why they’re scarfing down a pizza not an hour after they ate.
The trick is to hit the salad bar for a base of your favorite vegetables, and then choose a healthy protein to make that salad work even harder for you. Grilled chicken, boiled eggs, tofu, tuna, and beans are all great options. If your hall has stations for made-to-order omelettes or other dishes, focus on the same types of ingredients there.
2 – Get the Right Cooking Tools for Your Dorm
Dorm rooms don’t exactly offer gourmet kitchen setups, but you can outfit your space with just a few necessities to create quick, healthy meals. You likely already have the basics like a mini fridge and microwave. Compact, multi-purpose items like blenders and rice cookers can be great additions, too.
Use your traditional or bullet blender to create smoothies, soups, salsas, and spreads. The unexpected rice cooker is also awesomely efficient at making healthy foods. A rice cooker can make boiled eggs, oatmeal, steamed vegetables, and more. A quick Google search will turn up plenty of ideas for rice cooker and blender recipes.
3 – Stock Up on the Right Foods
Whether you’re in a dorm with a mini fridge and a few shelves or you live somewhere with more space for food storage, you should always have healthy food options on hand. Focus on versatile foods that can be used to make various quick, well-balanced meals.
For creating delicious meals in a hurry, we recommend pre-cooked or canned chicken, beans, and tuna for easy protein. When it comes to produce, only buy what you can store and eat before it goes bad. If you’re low on fridge space, some of our favorite, versatile options include fresh spinach, bell peppers, carrots, and berries. Round out your meals with better-for-you carbs like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and oats.
4 – Schedule Your Meals
Saying college life is busy is an understatement. We understand your life feels hectic, and it’s tempting to skip meals and grab the easy options when you can. But we all know a little planning can go a long way.
Scheduling your healthy college meals is easier than you think, and the benefits are well-worth the effort. Our most important tip is one you’re probably sick of hearing, and that is to eat breakfast. If you prep overnight oats or a smoothie the night before, you’ll have something you can put together quickly as you head out the door.
From there, prioritize eating times for when you know you start to feel hungry, but before you feel famished. This will help keep your energy levels up and prevent you from making impulsive food decisions. Remember that you’ll feel much more focused and motivated if you eat a healthy meal or snack before your meeting or class. No hanger here!
5 – Explore Healthy Substitutions for Your Favorite Foods
Cauliflower rice, sprouted grain bread, coconut milk ice cream. There are healthier versions of so many of our favorite foods. All it takes is a little research and creativity to enjoy those typically unhealthy foods in new ways that will leave you feeling satisfied and not guilty.
If you want a pizza, cut back on the cheese and add lots of veggies instead of the usual pepperoni. For pasta, try versions made from brown rice, quinoa, or even chickpeas. There are options for healthy desserts that can still satisfy your sweet tooth, too.
6 – Find Inspiration for How to Eat Healthy in College on the Internet
Use the knowledge available at your fingertips. Wellness is a trend that’s here to stay, and there’s a wealth of content out there focused on helping us live healthy, well-balanced lives.
Spend some time on Pinterest or Instagram and you’ll find plenty of ideas for healthy eating for college students. You’ll likely end up on a great food blog that you can visit time and again for recipes and inspiration.
And if you’re heading out to eat, hop online and look at the restaurant’s menu ahead of time. You can choose something healthy and delicious before you arrive. You won’t feel rushed to order and end up picking something you may regret.
7 – Focus on Balance
At the end of the day, you just want to feel healthy and happy. If you’re out celebrating a birthday or an awesome grade and you want to indulge in your favorite dessert, just go for it. Acknowledge that you’re going to have something delicious and healthy at your next meal and focus on enjoying your indulgence mindfully and guilt-free.
Remember that part of being healthy is staying active. There are easy workouts to do in your dorm, classes at your campus gym, and free videos online. Exercise can help relieve stress and leave you feeling refreshed and motivated.
Beyond Healthy Eating in College
We understand that your concerns go way beyond worrying about how to eat healthy in college. You’re dealing with a demanding class schedule, social obligations, and so much more. We’re here to help.