How to Eat Healthy in College

Shideh Ghandeharizadeh | Daily Trojan

As college students, we’re all struggling to juggle the demands of our academics, extracurriculars and social life. Add bad eating habits into the equation and the consequent fatigue, moodiness and lack of focus, and this delicate balance collapses like a poorly played game of Jenga. Here are some tips to help you stay on track with healthy eating to improve your college experience:

  1. Don’t wait until you’re starving to eat.

Not only will you feel cranky and irritable, but also you’ll just end up overeating when you finally get the chance to eat. If you don’t have the time to sit down for a full meal, eat energy-boosting snacks throughout the day so you’re not running on empty.

  1. Get on a sleep schedule.

By nixing all-nighters and creating a set time to wake up and go to sleep, your body will get on a regular rhythm so that your body will signal hunger at the same times each day, which can help prevent excessive snacking. Getting regular sleep also helps reduce cravings.

  1. Be smart about the foods you eat at the dining halls.

Avoid unhealthy and pseudo-healthy foods. Seemingly innocent fare like yogurt, granola and bread can be packed with added sugars, and even a nutritious salad can be sabotaged by dressings laden with preservatives and artificial ingredients.

  1. Load up on spices.

It’s no secret that an unadorned bowl of vegetables, while packed with important vitamins and minerals, can be a little boring. Bolstering a healthy but bland meal with spices can make it more palatable and even help you resist cravings. Buy a seasoning mix (preferably one with no sodium) and bring it with you to the dining halls to give your meals some added pizzazz. Pro tip: certain spices, like turmeric and cinnamon, have metabolism-boosting powers.

  1. Eat mindfully.

Try to avoid doing other tasks while eating meals, even if you’re in a time crunch. You will be more aware of when you are full, which will help keep you from overindulging, and by savoring the food you are putting in your body, you will feel more satisfied.

  1. Get clever with a microwave.

Just because you live in a dorm with no kitchen and a strict no-cooking-appliance policy doesn’t mean that you’re totally at the mercy of the dining halls to provide you with meals. There are a plethora of healthy microwave recipes, from oatmeal and scrambled eggs to burrito bowls and kale chips!

Check out this link for more inspiration:

  1. Eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but when you’re always on the go it can be easy to lapse into a vending machine diet of peanut M&Ms and spicy Cheetos. Trader Joe’s has tons of cheap produce; grab a bag of carrots or a carton of blueberries to stow in your backpack for the next time you have the munchies.

  1. Don’t stock your dorm with treats.

If you have a small hoard of unhealthy snacks in your room, try to make healthy swaps that give you a similar feeling of satisfaction. Instead of chips and cookies, try some Boom Chicka Pop popcorn and dark chocolate.

  1. Be a meal-prepping wizard.

If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen in your dorm, making a huge batch of rice, chicken and vegetables on the weekend and storing them in the freezer is the easiest way to ensure you’ll have a week of healthy meals. Plus, cooking is a great excuse to relax in your dorm and watch Netflix.

  1. Pack a lunch.

Even if you’re on a meal plan, this is an easy way to ensure that you’re not tempted to eat the unhealthy foods offered by the dining halls. Some of my favorite staples to pack are hard-boiled eggs, rice cakes with cheese, apples with peanut butter, yogurt with granola and veggies with hummus. Any kind of fruit or nuts are great options too!