Eating Healthy While in College: Yes, It’s Possible!
Eating healthy can be difficult under any circumstance when consumers are inundated all day and every day with advertisements for high-calorie but good-tasting foods. When eating on a budget, college students don’t often have a lot of choices.
Fortunately, with a little attention and dedication, any student can enjoy a healthy diet for energy, stamina and health.
Of course, the four food groups play into food categories, but adjust the view for a moment and think of types of food: fresh versus processed.
Canned vegetables often have 90 percent or more of their natural vitamins and minerals leached out from processing for commercial canning. When possible, eat fresh vegetables instead. You gain the nutrients while avoiding starchy compounds.
If you like them, eat fresh vegetables raw and with the skins for full nutrient value. If you really do prefer them cooked, steam them instead of boiling. Most fresh vegetables that are cooked properly aren’t soggy or mushy. They are slightly crisp with a bright, attractive color. They’re often tastier, too.
Stay away from large pasta servings and loads of carbohydrates in general. Moderate amounts are required for a balanced diet, but eat smaller servings and don’t duplicate dishes in a meal—no mashed potatoes along side macaroni and cheese, for instance.
Eat brown rice instead of a processed white rice.
Trim excess fat from meats, whether beef or pork, and avoid higher-fat-laden fowls like duck. Chicken is naturally lean, but skip munching on the skin and choose white meat over dark.
Lean pork is fine in limited quantities, but bacon, sausage and some hams are very high in fat. If you can’t avoid them, eat them in extreme moderation.
Fresh fruits are high in natural fiber, vitamins and minerals. Eat fresh fruits over canned whenever possible. If you buy or eat canned fruits, choose those packed in natural juices—not sugar water. Also, while it may sound odd, don’t compose a healthy diet around large quantities of fresh fruits. While the fruit itself may be low in calories and loaded with healthy elements, remember what the body does with fructose. It turns it into glucose which isn’t digested quickly and can add pounds accidentally.
Counter a high volume of fresh fruit with plenty of exercise to both aid in the digestive process, keep your metabolism high and create a need for fuel, and you will burn off the glucose easily.
Everyone snacks. Whether it’s during late night study sessions, at football games or picnics, snack foods will sneak into diets more often than not. Keep the fried chips, deep fried potatoes, ice cream and candy to a bare minimum.
Stock up on healthy snacks like, yes, fresh vegetables, diabetic candies with low or no sugar—they often have more flavor than standard candies when not riddled with sugar—and yogurt instead of ice cream.
Try sugarless gum when you reach for something instead of a food item. Often, the simple act of chewing will ease a craving.
Keeping Expenses Down
If you must eat in the cafeteria, stay away from ‘mystery meats,’ those tempting but high-calorie, starchy foods and head directly for the salads, soups and fruits. Then add a bite or two—no more, only a little bit—of those skipped items. Use those to end a meal, not as the main courses. Allowing yourself a smidgen of the flavors that tempt will calm the cravings and the taste buds.
If buying your own food, use a group dynamic and combine funds for bulk buying. A single 20- or 25-pound bag of brown rice costs considerably more than one-ounce packets. Dividing bulk items after purchase is relatively easy, and everyone can smile at the cost savings.
Dealing with the stress of a full load of classes, additional activities and a social life can be easier with a healthy mind and body. Eat healthy and go farther.
JC Ryan is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which online courses and online schools they can choose from to reach their goals.