A College Student’s Healthy Eating Guide

A College Student’s Healthy Eating Guide

Many of us have heard the horror stories of gaining the “freshman 15” in college at one time or another. For a lot of people, it is true that eating healthy in college can be a challenge. But I also think that finding a good balance of eating healthy and indulging is very attainable. It is not about restricting yourself from “unhealthy” options. It is about listening to your body and doing your best to balance out that late-night pizza with a nourishing meal the next day.

I am going to give a couple of tips that have been most helpful to me in my college experience and that I know have worked for many others! I hope to give my most updated and timely tips given COVID-19.

Let’s be real, we know that a lot of the “unhealthy” eating and drinking that occurs in college is a result of alcohol. I am most definitely not here to tell you to not enjoy yourself, but I do have a couple of tips to drink smarter. Pick a simple mixer such as La Croix, a lot of unnecessary sugar and calories come from mixers, not to mention you will feel much less hungover. 

Drink water! It is a great idea to buy a Hydro Flask or water bottle to bring to your classes. This can be a great reminder to drink throughout the day. Additionally, a lot of times we can confuse hunger with thirst. Next time you are going to reach for a snack have a glass of water before and then see if you are still hungry after.

One of the most common excuses I hear for not eating healthy in college is being on a budget. However, with all of the options now available, eating healthy on a budget has never been more affordable. Aim for grocery stores like Trader Joes or become a member of Thrive Market online (they offer free memberships for students) that offer good quality at a low cost.

Remember simple is best! Buy healthy staples that are versatile such as organic brown rice and rice cakes. Frozen fruit is always a great idea for smoothies as you don’t have to worry about it going bad. Stock up on healthy fats such as avocado, nut butters, and olive oil that keep you filled for longer and nourish your body. Finally, look for healthier alternatives such as zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice that you can replace heavier grains with.

Exercise! I know it can feel difficult to find time to work out in college, but there are so many ways to get a little movement each day. First off—if you can—walk to class! If you are on campus make it a goal to walk to your classes. Try to schedule or plan workouts for your week. It can be super helpful to recruit a friend that helps hold you accountable. Finally, if you have a little down-time, do a quick workout in your room or outside (we have a list of our favorite in an article here).

Last but not least, while many are closed right now, it only feels right to touch on the dining hall. I am personally not a fan of the dining hall, but I know a lot of people get roped into a dining hall meal plan. A lot of food in the dining hall is cooked in unhealthy oils or is not the highest quality. If you are stuck to the dining hall try to stick to simpler options. The salad bar is great but opt for a simple dressing such as olive oil as many of the dressings have saturated fats and unnecessary additives. Focus on getting greens and grains with each meal and try to eat intuitively. It is super easy to continue grabbing food, but do your best to slow down and stop when you begin feeling full.

College is a time to experience new things and figure out what works for you, and this definitely includes learning to eat healthily and correctly nourish your body. The little things we implement each day to be the healthiest versions of ourselves add up. Do the best you can to find a balance between eating healthy and enjoying late-night cravings. Drink lots of water, walk, and enjoy your college experience!

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