Eating healthy in college can be a major challenge. All sorts of food that will not make the nutritionists “favorite healthy foods” chart can easily surround the average college student. Late night pizza, bags of chips, cases of soda, beer kegs, energy drinks, and fast food are the regular fare of college students who are constantly going back and forth between working hard and playing hard. In addition, the college student can have a rather active metabolism, which may enable them to handle this type of consumption.
Some college students do begin to feel the effects of their lifestyle choices. They may struggle to handle their academic expectations, or they may grasp that their college habits will potentially follow them as they transition into adulthood. Therefore, some students make an attempt to maintain a healthy lifestyle in college so that they are more productive and put themselves on a better path to nutritional success. Here are a few tips on how to eat healthy at college.
Skip the late night snacks
One of the most obvious ways to eat healthier in college is to avoid late night eating. This can be difficult for many students, particularly if they are used to studying late at night. The night owl student often finds him or herself needing to take a break and refuel. Still, the body is not always used to eating late at night and then trying to digest high-fat and high-sugar foods with limited sleep.
If people need a boost, they should stick to healthy snacks like fruit and vegetables and they should drink plenty of water. Rather than consume caffeine to stay awake, getting up and doing some low-impact exercises or going for a short walk would better serve sleepy students. In addition, exercise can stimulate the brain better than a high caffeine beverage or a sugary dessert.
Control the beverages
Another strategy for keeping healthy in college is to limit the consumption of certain types of beverages. Students are often unaware of how unhealthy some beverages are and how many calories can be included. This applies to energy drinks, high-caffeine coffee drinks, sodas, alcohol, and even some sports drinks. Nutritionists will often advise people to avoid “drinking their calories”, which is good advice for the college student that often has a beverage in their hand. Again, sticking with a refillable water bottle is often a good strategy.
Eating healthy is often about the peer group. If people hang out with individuals who eat badly, chances are that they are going to eat badly as well. This doesn’t mean that people have to ditch their group of friends. However, it may mean that they should avoid hanging out with certain people around meal times or at certain social activities. If people know that certain people or environments will tempt them, they should avoid those situations as much as possible.
The cafeteria is not a buffet
Finally, people have to careful about eating in the cafeteria if they have an on-campus meal plan. It can be wonderful to have so many foods at their fingertips, but oftentimes a college student’s eyes are bigger than their stomach. In addition, cafeterias can potentially be loaded with high-fat, high-carbohydrate, and high-sugar items. Too often the college student can get used to getting a couple of different entrees, numerous beverages, and dessert. Restraint and selection is often the key to eating in a cafeteria so that every meal does not turn into an all-you-can-eat experience.
Eating healthy in college often comes down to the discipline level of the student. Many college students know what they should and should not consume, but they simply choose to enjoy themselves or consume what everyone is eating. In addition, if students want to eat healthy, they also have to exercise, keep their stress level down, and attempt to get some amount of sleep. Health is about lifestyle, and college students are not immune to the impact of their particular choices.