Eating healthy in college can seem like a chore, especially when those around you are constantly indulging in their favorite fast foods or dining hall treats. Rather than giving up and accepting that you can’t escape this less-than-nutritious tornado, here are some tips on how to maintain a healthy diet while still feeling satisfied and nurtured.
- Veggies First
In college, it’s easy to forget about veggies when you are stuck on a meal plan consisting of the same food every day. In order to keep up with your vegetable intake, opt for pre-bagged, pre-washed vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower that can be easily thrown into your dorm microwave. Don’t be fooled: it’s easy to dress up even the most basic veggies! Salt, pepper, garlic powder and a touch of olive oil can do wonders to once-boring meals. If you like spice, try red pepper flakes for garnish. If you have access to a stove, the options are endless: broccoli sauteed in olive oil with some cornstarch and your favorite spices is a delicious, crispy addition to dinner or snack time or gently boiled green beans sauteed with garlic and chopped onions, which have been a family favorite of mine for many years. If none of these options appeal to you, check out a list of quick and satisfying veggie recipes here.
- Stock Up on Volume Foods
As a volume eater myself, I’m often left feeling dissatisfied when I eat a single serving of my favorite chips. So, I seek to find low-calorie, filling snacks that I can graze on throughout the day without feeling guilty. This Herbs and Spices Popcorn from Trader Joe’s is so delicious and a serving size is two cups, making it perfect for mindless grazing. If you’re looking for an even bigger serving size, check out this Hatch Chile Cheddar Seasoned Popcorn. Fruits and vegetables like strawberries or baby carrots also make a great snacking option and are full of fiber, helping to keep you full for longer. The lightness of these foods also avoid that dense feeling that tends to follow heavier snacks. To feel even more satisfied, add some hummus, peanut or almond butter, or dip to make your favorite healthy snacks even tastier.
- Save Money, Live Better
Going out to eat or ordering in undoubtedly costs a lot of money. So, if you find it difficult not to give in when your friends DoorDash your favorite fast food, remind yourself that you are saving plenty of pocket money that you can spend on things that will last longer than ten minutes. For every week that you don’t eat out, set a reward for yourself, like buying a new shirt from your favorite boutique. After all, the money you would have spent on going out to eat will likely be more than enough to cover a cute top. Other than clothes shopping, just remember how much money you are saving by nourishing your body every day with low-cost, dense and energizing foods rather than overpriced fast food that leaves you feeling lethargic and cloudy.
- Remember that it’s okay to indulge
While going out to eat isn’t always the healthiest option, it’s completely okay to indulge every once in a while! Especially considering the amount of money you will save from staying in, you will likely have extra cash for a more expensive meal (not a McChicken Sandwich this time, unless you want it). Even when you are trying to eat healthier, it is never necessary to restrict yourself or avoid food groups entirely; rather, practicing mindful eating and listening to your hunger and fullness cues will allow for eating your favorite foods when you want!
Maintaining a nutritious diet can seem like quite the feat at first, but minor changes like those listed above will make the process far simpler. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself and remember that making lifestyle changes takes time. Patience is key to a healthy diet that will extend far beyond your college years.