Was your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier in 2020? Many people resolve to make healthier choices, including better food choices, but then their busy lives distract them and they fall back on old patterns. It can be tough to eat healthy in college because students are very busy and they live on tight budgets. It is doable, though! Read on for some ways to make healthy eating a part of your everyday life in college.
Eat Healthy: Make Your Own Meals
The least expensive way to eat better in college is to make your own food. We all know that processed food is bad for you. This is because the more food is processed (the more steps it takes to get it into that form), the fewer nutrients it retains and the more artificial additives and preservatives it will probably contain. If instead you buy raw ingredients and turn those into meals, your food will be more nutritious and less chemically laden. It’s also much cheaper to buy ingredients than it is to buy snacks and frozen dinners.
There are many hyper-nutritious “superfoods” that you can buy inexpensively, and some of them can be turned into a meal in minutes. Eggs, oatmeal, rice, beans, peanut butter, and avocados are easy to prepare, filling, and good for you. They can also be combined with fresh vegetables or fruits to make meals or salads that are just as tasty and healthier than fast food. Not so many college students cook these days, but it’s not difficult to make delicious food that will yield leftovers for later too.
Another way to incorporate cooking into your life is to do it with friends or roommates. It’s harder to make the effort to cook a meal for one, but if you cook with a group or organize a group meal even once a week, you may find spending time in the kitchen more rewarding. Instead of being a chore, it becomes socializing with a meal as the end result.
If you cannot cook or do not want to cook, there are companies that provide fully cooked, healthy meals plans that can be delivered directly to your apartment. Each meal costs about as much as a fast food meal. If you’re finding yourself too reliant on eating out, this might be a great option to try because the food is healthier and less fattening and it’s already there in your refrigerator.
Eat Healthy: Stock up on Healthy Snacks
Another way to eat healthy is to buy healthier food to snack on. Keep it on hand, either in the cupboard or in your backpack, when you know you’ll get hungry. College schedules are complicated. It’s not always possible to eat at noon everyday. Your body clock may demand to eat at noon, though. If you’ve bought staples like nuts, seeds, multi-grain crackers, popcorn, granola, hummus, carrots, dried fruit, or apples, you will have something to eat when you need a boost of energy for studying or work, and you won’t have to hit the vending machines.
Eat on a Schedule
Respect your body clock. If you don’t eat nutritious meals regularly but skip meals and then wolf down what you can find, your body and your mind will suffer. You need to regularly fuel your body for it to perform the way you want it to. This is especially important during very busy times like midterms and finals. If you have trained yourself to eat on a schedule, you will be less likely to skip meals and crash when you need to be able to focus and perform the most.
College students are prone to late night snacking, especially when they have deadlines to meet. If you have to eat something to keep your energy up, try to make that something a small, nutritious snack rather than half a pizza. Binge eating late at night will throw off your body clock and your appetite well into the next day. Often pizza is paired with beer or soda, both of which have consequences for your mental clarity and sleep cycle.
Drink More Water
So many students rely on energy drinks, soda, or coffee to power through their days and nights. None of these – or alcohol – are really good for your health or your brain. Water will keep you hydrated and your mind clear far better, so make an effort to drink water with your meals and snacks if you want to stay healthy.
You may think it’s too hard to eat healthy in college, but if you make conscious choices and create better habits, it really isn’t. The downside of eating unhealthy foods is that you will feel rundown and tired. You will get sick more often. Poor nutrition often affects mental health too. If you want to feel and be your best, focus on improving your nutrition and your food habits. You will thank yourself for making the effort!