Despite the national initiative to eat better and cleaner, the stereotype of the pizza-gnawing, beer-guzzling college student still exists. And it’s not just because all college students are irresponsible or don’t care about their health or their weight. There are lots of factors working against you, students, when it comes to proper nutrition. Most young kids spend all week waiting for pizza night, and when you get to college, you’re allowed to eat it every night if you want. Also, college kids are on tight budgets and opt for fast food and frozen meals when they spend their own money off campus. Finally, students have little control over what they eat in the dining hall: if their school hasn’t stepped up and offered them a healthy, well-balanced meal plan, they still have to eat whatever is served in front of them.
But just because you face nutrition obstacles every day as a college student doesn’t mean you have to accept weight gain, health problems, bad skin, and low energy as a necessary part of your college experience. Below are several simple tips for winning back some of the control over the fight for your wellbeing.
Get enough sleep: Weird sleep schedules can contribute to even weirder cravings and weight gain. Think about it: the longer you stay up at night, the more you’re likely to eat. Doctors also believe that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain.
Keep a food journal: You don’t have to share it with anyone, so be as honest as you can by writing down every single snack, meal and beverage you eat or drink for one week. Writing it all down will help you discover which food groups you’re ignoring and which times of day you’re more likely to overindulge.
Pay attention to your emotions when you eat: Are you eating because you’re tired, stressed or sad? What kinds of foods to you eat when you feel happy vs. anxious? Identifying your food habits will also help you make proactive, healthier choices.
Only keep healthy snacks in your dorm room: If it’s inconvenient to find ice cream, you’ll be more likely to eat the whole-grain cereal or banana that’s already in your room. Empty out your refrigerator of the junk and keep good food stocked.
Stay nourished all day: You’re more likely to give into cravings if you go too long without food. Keep healthy snacks like fruit, yogurt and nuts in your book bag so that you can keep your mind and body nourished between meals. Always make time for breakfast, too.
Still confused about what to eat? Keep reading for healthy snack ideas when you get the midnight munchies, as well as smarter dining hall choices you can make.
- Skim-milk string cheese: Great for mindless snacking, since you can pull apart the cheese as you study.
- Go for grilled: Instead of fried chicken or fish, opt for the grilled version.
- Get a side salad or side of veggies with lunch and dinner: Eat the veggies first, and limit dressing to a couple of tablespoons of light dressing or vinaigrette dressing.
- Peanut butter: It’s great comfort food and contains good fats and protein. Just make sure you spread it on fruit, crackers or whole wheat bread and don’t eat it out of the jar.
- Fruits and veggies: Grapes, baby carrots, watermelon and cherry tomatoes are great study snacks that are low in calories and good for your energy and overall health.