If there’s any proof that eating healthy in college is difficult, it’s often best explained by the sudden weight gain referred to as the “freshman-15” or, in some cases, the “freshman-30.” Eating healthy can be difficult, but it’s not impossible, as demonstrated by students who are motivated enough to not only eat well throught out the week, but by the ones who also work out on a regular basis. Here are eight suggestions for staying healthy in college:
1. Stretch Your Money
With $5 you can buy a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter — supplies for lunch that will last several days as opposed to the $5 sandwich, fries and soda for a one-time lunch. You can stretch your money even further by using coupons. The Utah Chronicle sometimes contains coupons for grocery stores, and most homes receive a pack of coupons in their mailboxes at least once a week.
2. Find a Job with Free Food
I work at Panda Express, and I opt for the healthiest things on the menu for my meals. This way you get regular meals, you aren’t spending money and, if you have an evening shift, by the time you get home you’ll have already eaten dinner. This means you will be able to focus on homework and go to bed at a decent hour.
3. Eat Vegetables
Vegetables are filling and there are a wide variety of recipes that use vegetables as the main ingredient. Vegetables are also the most needed, but least appreciated food.
4. Meal Prep on Sundays
You can get recipe ideas from Tasty and other videos like it. Use a meal plan app, such as Lifesum and MyPlate — both are free — to stay on track. Calorie counting apps can also be helpful. Along these lines, set reminders in your phone to eat. Just as it’s easy to get lost in food when you’re stressed, it’s easy to forget to eat at all when you’re stressed.
5. Eat at Home
Yes, we’re supposed to be growing and learning to fend for ourselves, but having the time to fend for ourselves is difficult with work, school and strange meal times. Sometimes the best thing you can do is get a home-cooked meal.
6. Pack a Lunch
Leave your wallet at home so you’re not tempted to buy food, because more often than not, the only cheap food you can buy is unhealthy. Channel your inner kindergartner and include all the important food groups. Make a sandwich and add some carrot sticks, broccoli, apple slices or a granola bar, put it all in a lunch box and carry it with you. When the alarm on your phone goes off, go ahead and eat.
7. Eat Breakfast
Big breakfasts are more important than big dinners. Maybe you can’t find time at night in between homework, work and trying to get sleep to eat a real meal, but you can always wake up 20 minutes earlier to make and eat some eggs and bacon or oatmeal and berries. Bigger breakfasts will help wake you up, and you won’t be as hungry throughout the day.
8. Listen to Your Body
If you’re full, stop eating. If you’re hungry, eat. If something makes you sick, don’t eat it even if it’s cheap. Don’t let college ruin your body on top of your motivation.