With a non-stop schedule of classes, meetings with various organizations, studying and fun with friends, maintaining a healthy, balanced, diet in a college setting becomes difficult. Believe it or not, it’s actually not impossible to eat well; and referring to the following tips can help you improve your college diet (or the diet of anyone on the go)!
Create a Plan of Action
Having 3 well-balanced meals impacts your ability to think clearly and function to the best of your ability; but making healthy food choices can be challenging with a college schedule. Time may hold you back from visiting the dining hall; and if you do end up getting there, it can be overwhelming with the swarms of hungry people and the never-ending array of options. Referring to your college or university’s dining services menu (usually available online) can help by allowing you to budget your time and see exactly what is being served for the day and help you gauge healthier choices for your meals.
Having access to a kitchen can be equally as overwhelming because of the time it takes to prepare a meal. A plan of action can be to make your healthy meals in advanced and store it in your refrigerator. For example, on a Sunday evening you can prepare a large container’s worth of whole grain pasta that, throughout the week, you can have a portion of until it is finished. Making these meals in advance can keep you from rushing towards a fast food restaurant when you are hungry.
Still overwhelmed? Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Contact a registered dietitian or nutritionist about the creating a meal plan that is healthy and suited for your needs. Most colleges and universities offer access to a registered dietitian who knows your dining quarters well enough to help you make healthy decisions.
Time is of the essence while in college, and instant foods can prove an instant hero when hungry between classes. Instant foods are prepared easily and in a short time because of the preservatives and other unnatural ingredients they contain. Medicapharm blogger, Ahmed Taha describes preservatives found in the popular instant noodles, saying “ Ingesting too much preservatives in foods and drinks will make you so prone to get cancer. Plus, your stomach will be working at a higher rate to break and devastate the ingested preservatives accompanying the food you ate. Even more, you will have a major vulnerability to diseases. Your body organs and systems are going to be weaker.” Avoiding instant foods can ultimately improve both your short-term and long-term health.
Drinking Coffee and Tea
Coffee is a staple in the college diet- keeping students awake for late night study sessions, early mornings and the motions of their day. Depending on caffeine’s affect on your individual body, drinking coffee too often or too strong can cause you to be jittery, anxious, or may even lessen the affect that caffeine has on your body. If you’re looking for more balance in your caffeine consumption, try replacing one of your cups of coffee with a cup of tea. Although tea does not have as much caffeine as coffee (black tea contains less than half of the caffeine of a cup of black coffee), it still contains an amount to keep you awake without the shakes and jitters (tea can actually be calming!). Tea has a different taste from coffee, but adding half and half and sugar to your tea can bring its consistency closer to that of coffee. It also has numerous health benefits. WebMD journalist, Julie Edgar states, describes tea as helping with “cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness.”
Late Night Delivery Services
While restaurants delivering until 4AM may seem like the best thing to happen since sliced bread, it isn’t necessarily the best thing for you. Often times, the restaurants that stay open until late hours serve fried foods that are high in fats and canned sodas that are high in sugars. Because you aren’t moving as much as you are throughout the day, these foods will sit in your stomach, and can make you feel groggy (sometimes even sick) up until the next morning. If you must answer to your midnight cravings, or munch on something while you’re fighting to stay awake to study for that Biology exam in the morning, drop the menu and try eating fruits and/or a serving of mixed nuts. Apples are wonderful in how they curb your appetite and give you that burst of energy you need. Mixed nuts are often referred to as “brain food,” for their ranging health benefits and ability to satisfy that grumbling stomach of yours. Just make sure to be wary of how much you eat, and how much sodium is in each serving you consume.
These are only a few of the many ways you can improve your college diet! Eating to the best of your ability contributes to your daily motions by providing you with more energy and mental clarity. If you have more suggestions, please post a comment below!