, We all know about it. It haunts us with every meal, each skipped work out, and any potential snack time…
The infamous freshman 15!
While some of us avoid it like the plague, and others could care less, we all can’t argue with trying to eat healthier. It makes us feel better, study better, be more attentive, and in the long run, look nicer.
Now that you’re in college, you’ve got a lot more responsibility and freedom in your lunch choices (unless you were a cook-aholic like me). Remember what Spider-man told you:
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Now you have to awaken your health-consciousness and put on your big girl pants and eat like a responsible adults. Well, ideally. You don’t have to, but you’ll be better off later if you start healthy habits now.
So great! How do you get started?
No matter how much self-control you have, it’s always better, and easier, if the temptation isn’t there. Don’t overload on the junk food. Candies, chips, pop-tarts, and sodas all play a part in the downward spiral towards that freshman 15. There’s no reason to keep stuff like that handy in bulk, though you should let yourself “cheat” every once in a while, or else you may feel overwhelmed by restraint.
Now what do you eat?
Stock up on healthy mini-meals, like oatmeal, healthier cereals, soups, and other long-lasting foods. Unless you decided to skip the whole meal-plan thing, then you probably won’t be going through your dorm stash fast.
If you’re on your own for breakfast, I highly recommend getting a mini-blender. Smoothies are an excellent quick and nutritious breakfast. All you need for a basic smoothie is milk, a banana, and an add-in of your choice. My favorites are strawberries, peanut butter, and/or spinach. Spinach/kale might sound gross, but honestly, you can hardly taste it amidst the sweetness of the banana.
Now what about snacks?
Think smart! Buy healthy snacks that will sustain you. Even if you do buy something with a little extra sugar in it than the kale chips, as long as it is a good energy source, then it may end up being better for you because you’ll eat once, then stop eating, rather than eating low-cal snacks without end.
Additionally, if you’re a savvy shopper, go for the produce! What’s in season is not only cheap, but also better environmentally, because the fruit is less likely to be shipped across the nation if it’s common in your area. Also, you can get a pound of fruit for almost a dollar. Pretty nice, right?
Also, not to encourage stealing, but I am yet to meet someone who doesn’t slip bananas and apples from the cafeteria into their bag. Those meal plans are expensive anyway…
Some snacks that have worked well for me are:
- Animal Crackers (Adults can have fun too)
- Peaches and bananas
- Dried rice cakes (low cal and cheap)
- Granola bars
- Teddy Grahams (Only when I’m feeling crazy)
- Plain granola
- Apple sauce
And if you have access to a kitchen, you can always make something nifty at the beginning of the week and have stress-free snacks and breakfasts the rest of the week. Homemade energy balls are amazing for late night study sessions.
So great! Now you know what kind of food to get, but now it’s time to focus on your relationship with your food. It shouldn’t be a habit just to eat anytime you’re in your room, or every time you study, or watch Netflix. What I notice is that if food is out, I’ll eat it, even if I’m not hungry. I try to keep my dorm clean, and my food put away to prevent myself from eating, and to keep the bugs away. Storage bins with lids are great for stashing your food under your bed. Also, places that are high up, but not too high. I keep a lot above the hanging space in my closet. Now eating becomes a task. You have to work to earn it!
If you have been blessed with an all-you-can-eat style meal plan, don’t feel like you have to abuse that every single meal to get your money’s worth. Trust me. I’ve been there, done that, it feels terrible. You also don’t have to eat it just because it’s there. Take only what you can eat, and if you need more, go get it. If not, be content with what you have. A great way to think of it is to only eat until you’re 80% full. There’s no need to be waddling out of the cafeteria.
Starting healthy habits now just might follow you for the rest of your life. Change while it’s early, and it will be easier for you to adjust. And don’t forget, eating is only part of creating a healthier you. Exercise, proper amounts of sleeping, and drinking water are all part of the equation as well. Make healthy choices, and you’ll feel great!