As a current college student myself, I realize all about the different problems that college students face. One of the most popular things you hear about college before you start attending is “Be careful of gaining the freshman 15”. This is of course talking about the common 15 pounds gained by college students when they enter. I luckily avoided adding the freshman 15, although some of my roommates said I could have used it since I am so skinny. Although I try to eat healthy, and exercise when I can, I’m still not the healthiest eater in the world. Luckily for me, one of my roommates is so he has really taught me a lot about eating healthy, especially on a college campus.
1) Eat In The Dining Hall – This may seem like an obvious one, but let me clarify this. Many schools, including my own University offers a variety of restraints right on campus. Some of the restaurants on my campus include Zepps Subs, Wendy’s, Sbarros, and many more. When I say eat in the dining hall, I mean eat in the main dining area instead of these restaurants. The main dining area often offers a variety of different choices, and tends to be much healthier than the other options available on campus. Unlike the other restaurants, the dining hall actually offers vegetables, milk and juices instead of soda, and other healthy choices. My one roommate, who I mentioned before is very health conscious, and only drinks milk with his meals and will only eat at the dining hall. Now I’m not saying you have to be as particular as my roommate, but spending most of your meals in the dining hall is a big step to remaining healthy and maintaining your current weight, or maybe even losing weight. The most important thing to do when picking out a meal is to try to make it as balanced of a meal as possible. Try to add a meat, a vegetable, bread, and a dairy and make sure they aren’t real fatty, as this kind of eliminates the purpose of trying to eat healthy. If you’re going to have milk, I’d recommend fat free, since I can’t taste the difference between that and the others.
2) Avoid Late Night Ordering – Late night ordering is also a big problem in college, although I must admit I have been guilty of late night ordering a couple times. I wouldn’t recommend it, at least not too often though, as it is the easiest way to tack on pounds. The people I know that did order late nights often gained several pounds throughout their freshman year at college. If you are going to order food late night, make sure it’s something at least slightly healthy, and try to avoid wings, pizza, etc and go for maybe even Chinese food could be healthier depending on what you like. Not only will not ordering late at night save you the potential of gaining a lot of weight, the amount of money you’ll be saving will also be a big surprise. If you’re the type of person who gets hungry at night(such as myself) try eating a later dinner, or buying a few snacks for your room, which pretty much anything would be healthier than the pizza and wings you’d probably be ordering.
3) Eat Only What You Need – Just because your dining hall or college offers all you can eat (like mine does) that doesn’t mean you have to stuff yourself consistently until you can’t eat anymore. Eat only what you would if you were paying for the meal is the best rule of thumb, to avoid making sure you don’t eat more just because you can. This is a very easy way to gain a lot of weight, and trust me that won’t be worth “getting your money’s worth with the food”.
4) Avoid Soda or Other Sugary Drinks – Most dining halls have a lot of choices when it comes to sodas and fruit punches, but try to avoid all these sugary drinks as much as possible. There are some much healthier and even tastier options such as flavored water, juices, and milk, or even just plain old regular water. I personally try to drink as much milk and orange juice as I can, especially with breakfast to help with muscle growth and bone density.
5) Watch Meal “Sides” – The sides of meals can sometimes be unhealthy, even if the meal is healthy. Watch out for sandwiches that come with chips or cookies as a side, and try to swap that for a piece of fruit instead or yogurt instead. Choosing healthier side options is a huge step to eating healthier and avoiding weight problems.
6) Don’t Skip Meals – Contrary to what people may believe about skipping meals to lose weight, it’s simple not healthy, and it often doesn’t even work for weight loss. College students need their nutrition and their strength in order to maintain energy levels and perform well, and skipping meals prohibits you from doing any of these.
7) Limit Alcohol Consumption – Limiting your alcohol consumption is also a huge way to help you stay healthy. Not only is binge drinking bad for your weight and a lot of calories, but it also kills liver function and kills brain cells. So before you go out partying and try to cram as many beers as you can inside you, think about what you’re doing to your body and how much weight you can easily gain from doing so. I don’t know too many people that want a beer belly by the time they’re in college.
Eating healthy in college isn’t as difficult as many people make it out to be, especially if you follow the tips I’ve listed above. I personally followed these tips mostly throughout my time at college so far, and I haven’t gained any weight really at all (I don’t keep close track, but nothing noticeable).