Avoiding the freshman 15 may seem easy if you’re a healthy active person, but when you officially move to college and are on your own it’s harder than it seems. You go from having full meals prepared for you and having a set schedule that involves healthy eating, being active, and socializing. Then you get to college and all of that gets flipped upside down.
When looking at meals that most college students eat they all look pretty similar. Some students have a meal plan through the school, so there isn't food being prepared by the student, but rather by dining staff, and these quick meals are made available on the go. This option may be convenient, but it is less healthy and food options are limited. Then there are also the students that make all their meals at home, but they tend to buy the cheapest food to save money. So you’ll see a lot of pasta, cereal, soup, etc. anything that doesn’t go bad quickly. As you can see both options don’t have a lot of fruits, vegetables, protein, etc. which are all things that you need to consume every day.
That is when meal planning comes into play. When you go to the grocery store, you have to look at what are things that you can buy in bulk that you know you will eat and can help you stick with your healthy eating. For example, you’ll want to buy your pasta, soup, meat, or any snacks all at once and you can double up if you need too, since all of these foods will last you more than a week and you know they will not go bad. Then when it comes to buying your produce and dairy products, you’ll need to look at what exactly are you cooking that week, what items will you not waste your money on, etc.
Now healthy eating is only one small part of staying healthy in college, but physical exercise is BIG. Whether that is going for a long walk, going to the gym, doing at-home workouts, whatever your form of exercise is, you should be doing something for at least 30 minutes every day. The most common excuse that students will say is “I don’t have enough time” and my response to that is, “that is a lie, you can always make time.” Whether that is getting up an hour earlier, taking a break from school to go for a walk, or even making a friend that will help you stick to working out.
Then of course comes your mental health. As humans, we need to see people, we need to get out of the house, we need to make memories and explore. You can’t sit in front of a screen for ten hours a day, not leaving your home and still be happy. You cannot be mentally and emotionally healthy that way. You need a break from work and school to become who you are. Whether that means getting coffee with a friend, going out of town for the weekend, or going to the gym. As humans, we need to socialize which helps boost your mental and physical health.
To remain healthy and happy during this crazy time and during college, one must look to their own habits to see if there needs to be adjustments. Maybe dedicate a couple of hours for meal prepping to help you throughout the week or try a new form of exercise. College is the perfect time to try and make your own schedule, so remember to set aside time for your classes, your health, and you.