There are many benefits to adapting a healthy eating lifestyle while you’re in college. It can be difficult, because the junk food options are plenty, but it is so worth it.
The most notable reason it is beneficial while you are still in college is that good food is good for the brain. Studies have shown that those who regularly eat good, nutrient rich food, eat a balanced diet, and avoid fatty and sugary foods, are able to process new information faster and retain information better. Plus, if you’re on a weight loss journey, that will definitely help.
Healthy eating habits have also been linked to improved mood, less anxiety, and better sleep.
Eating a healthy diet is good for your physical health too. You will have more energy and burn fat more effectively, helping to keep off extra pounds. People who regularly choose healthy food have lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.
For more details on the benefits, check out my post 4 Benefits of Healthy Eating In College
Knowing why is an important part of lifestyle change, but once you know WHY, you need to know HOW.
Healthy Eating Tips for College Students
Eating healthy can be challenging while in college, especially if you live on campus. Having a campus meal plan can be helpful, but you have to be intentional to avoid the unhealthy options, like the all you can eat soft serve ice cream.
I have put together my top tips for sticking with healthy eating habits while you’re in college.
HEALTHY EATING TIP #1 – IF YOU GET HUNGRY FOR BREAKFAST, DON’T SKIP IT
If you have morning classes, breakfast can be the most important meal, because your brain needs fuel before you walk into that first class, so eating breakfast is definitely a good idea.
Choosing a healthy breakfast will also set you up to make healthy choices all day and to eat a balanced diet.
However! If you’re not “a breakfast person” – or you just don’t get hungry in the morning, don’t force yourself to eat. There are many benefits to intermittent fasting, as I’m sure you’ve heard of.
HEALTHY EATING TIP #2 – DRINK WATER
Most people do not drink enough water each day. We need water for so many reasons, but when it comes to eating healthy it is one of the easiest ways to make a big difference quickly.
Soda, juice and even gatorade are loaded with sugar and calories. When you choose water instead, you eliminate a lot of sugar quickly, and you’re staying hydrated.
Drinking water with meals will also help you feel full faster so you are much less likely to overeat.
Staying hydrated is so important for your body, not just for weight loss, but for general health.
HEALTHY EATING TIP #3 – INCLUDE VEGETABLES AT MOST MEALS
One of the easiest ways to make sure you are getting all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs is to have at least one vegetable on your plate at most meals.
Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins that you don’t get in other foods, and they’re probably one of the most important food groups. Strawberries, for example, are high in Vitamin C, whereas chicken does not contain any vitamin C. Leafy greens are high in calcium and iron, minerals you won’t get much of in a slice of cake or bag of chips. So, eat some leafy greens, other raw veggies, but cooked veggies as well – grilled zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, etc. Whatever you like!
HEALTHY EATING TIP #4 – PLAN YOUR MEALS
You might think that meal planning is only for those trying to feed a whole family, but while you’re in college it can be an incredibly helpful tool. Planning your meals in advance will help you eat a balanced diet, include all needed food groups into your diet, eat healthy fats and not saturated fats, see the weight loss goals you want to see, and be healthier overall.
Meal planning doesn’t have to involve complex recipes and grocery lists. If you have a campus meal plan, it might just mean making a plan for which dining hall restaurant you will go to, and which healthy meal you will choose.
Having a plan helps you stick to your new healthy eating habits. It is a lot harder to make a decision when you are hungry and staring at a full menu. When you have taken a moment to think about which options are healthiest, then you know what you can choose without derailing your nutrition.
My Best Body program helps you plan every meal, check it out here if you’re interested!
HEALTHY EATING TIP #5 – HAVE HEALTHY SNACKS IN YOUR DORM ROOM
If you live on campus, you likely spend a lot of time in your dorm room. Whether you are studying, completing homework assignments or just relaxing, you are in your room a lot.
Choose healthy snacks to keep in your dorm. Some great options are raw vegetables, rice cakes, fruit, nuts and light butter popcorn.
Try to avoid keeping junk food in your dorm room so that when you need a snack, you grab one of the healthy choices instead of a chocolate bar. For example, you can eat an apple with some almond butter (or another nut butter – they’re great for eating healthy fats) for a delicious yet healthy snack! Or, raw veggies dipped in hummus or guac (guac is also a great source of healthy fats). Or a trail mix.
HEALTHY EATING HABIT #6 – EXERCISE
Ok, so this one doesn’t directly have to do with the food you eat, but it does impact your eating habits. When you are regularly exercising, your body craves nutrition rich food. Suddenly all those healthy snacks, vegetables and lean proteins are a lot more appetizing when you’ve just burned 600 calories in a workout.
Exercise doesn’t come easily for everyone; going to the gym and looking at all that equipment you have never used might be completely overwhelming, but I have good news! Exercise doesn’t have to be at the gym. There are so many options: join an intramural, walk or ride your bike to class, play a quick game of volleyball with your friends between classes. Your college probably even has an exercise class you can take as an elective.
For more tips and tricks to being your
healthiest in college, check out my other articles