Let’s face it, the dorm environment and college life aren’t typically known as beacons of health. In fact, it would almost seem as if the odds are against you in maintaining healthy eating habits- a problem that causes many students to gain the “freshman 15” their first year at their new school.
As a self-proclaimed healthy living girl, I had to completely relearn many of my engrained habits as I was faced daily with all-you-can-eat dining commons, hours of schoolwork, partying, and the lack of motivation to make it to the campus gym.
In the end, putting in the effort to stay fit and healthy is one of the most important things you can do during your college years and will help you feel confident, happy, and comfortable in your own skin.
- Just Because It’s All You Can Eat, Doesn’t Mean You Should Eat All You Can
Now that’s a title for you. Many college campuses boast all you can eat dining commons with a huge variety of different cuisines and flavors, but keep in mind that getting multiple plates of food to sample can be a major pit-fall. While greasy burgers and fries are an okay treat once in awhile, having them for lunch and dinner along with a plate of pasta will not only devoid you of essential nutrients, but leave you feeling sluggish and bloated from the extra sodium. Instead, try sticking to one main entree and a side salad for each lunch and dinner and oatmeal, egg white omelets, or yogurt with fruit for breakfast.
- Snack Smart
Many students have the option of keeping a mini fridge in their room, but don’t take full advantage of what a great resource it can be to their health. Keep your fridge stocked with items like greek yogurt, fruit, hummus, and veggies for when you’re up late and feeling munchy. Try to avoid processed snacks such as the classic Cup of Noodles and potato chips which are full of sodium, refined carbs, and saturated fat.
Eating small meals helps keep your blood sugar stable and will keep you from crashing and binging on all the unhealthy options around you.
- Skip the Soda and Sugary Drinks
We all know that soda is chock full of sugar (think 50-80 grams per can!), but often label fruit juices as “healthy” alternatives. While fruit juices may contain more vitamins and nutrients, many contain sweetened syrup, lack fiber from the juicing process, and contain huge amounts of sugar and calories. For most people, drinking their calories leaves them no less hungry and can contribute to weight gain if drank in excess. As an alternative, try to make drinking plain water, tea, and milk a habit- your body will thank you!
- You Can Be Social Without Eating
This one was a tough one for me to conquer. Many times, a late night trip to the dining commons or local pizza place with friends makes bonding and establishing friendships seem dependent on food and drinking. Keep in mind that making this a habit can lead to weight gain and that there are plenty of other options for socializing. Instead, try grabbing a group of friends together for a walk or fun activity such as ice skating or hiking.
- Don’t Skimp on Exercise
Eating habits are only half the equation when it comes to finding a balanced lifestyle and skimping on exercising can be a huge problem. Exercise provides countless benefits, such as controlling your weight, improving your mood, fighting cardiovascular disease, strengthening your bones and muscles, and helping you sleep better at night. Many colleges offer A-grade gyms complete with weight and cardio machines that you can pop in to in-between classes.
Make a point to hit the gym and break a sweat at least a couple of times a week. If the gym isn’t your thing, there are tons of other fun options such as going for a group run, hiking, swimming, and biking.