Eating healthy in college can be hard. Busy schedules and dorm room living make cooking hard, if possible at all. A college budget makes buying healthy food even harder. Add on all the cheap, unhealthy options readily available and eating healthy in college seems downright impossible. Even though it seems the odds are against us, there are many ways to eat healthy in college.
Prep your own food
Head over to the grocery store and pick up some healthy food you can eat throughout the week. The grocery store will be cheaper than what is sold on campus and, if you buy the right stuff, it will be better for you too.
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After you buy your food, prep all of your snacks and meals. I like to take zip lock bags and make all of my snacks for the week so that there is always an easy, grab-and-go, healthy snack available. I’ll also cut any veggies and cook anything that can be cooked ahead of time, like pasta or rice. When you have healthy choices within reach, it makes the unhealthy choices less appealing.
Make your own food
I make practically all of my food. I rarely eat out or eat on campus because that costs money and ya girl does not have a whole lot of money. I’m not a master chef or anything so my food is not fancy, but it tastes good, keeps me full, and makes my bank account happy. I’ve also never lived in a dorm so I’ve always had a kitchen. Here are some of my favorite things to make:
- Stirfry – Throw some veggies (fresh or frozen) into a pan with some olive oil and sautée them. Once they are cooked to your liking, add some rice or noodles, soy sauce, honey, sriracha, and sesame seeds.
- Quesadillas, Tacos, Burrito Bowls, etc – I like to take black beans, cheese, corn, onions, avocado, salsa, and lettuce to make some kind of Tex-Mex meal.
- Salads – For a good salad, you need greens, veggies, healthy fats, protein, and some carbs. I like to make a Greek-like salad with greens, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, dressing, and roasted chickpeas.
Bring your own food
When you have your own food on campus, you’re much less likely to buy that bagel that’s calling your name. Things like fruit, veggies, and trail mix make great healthy snacks. I always make sure to have something with me because I can get super hangry. When I’m going to be on campus for a long time, I’ll bring snacks and my lunch/dinner so I know I have healthy food within reach.
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Head to the salad bar
If you live on campus or eat in a dining hall, be sure to take advantage of the salad bar. Create a healthy and balanced salad to keep you full throughout the day. Be sure to get plenty of veggies, protein, and healthy fats. Get creative with your choices and mix it up every day so you never get bored of salads.
Focus on whole foods
When eating in dining halls, buying food on campus, or even buying food at the grocery store, focus on whole foods and try to stay away from processed foods. So instead of buying juices or premade smoothies (that have tons of added sugar), buy the whole fruit. If you’re eating a sandwich or pasta, try eating whole grain or whole wheat. It’s a small change, but it could help you make more healthy eating habits.
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Make it yummy
Eating healthy, especially on campus, doesn’t have to be boring. You just have to be smart about it. Use condiments like mustard, salsa, herbs, soy sauce, hot sauce, and sriracha to make your meals more flavorful while still keeping it healthy.
While it’s important to eat all your veggies, it’s also important to find balance. Eating that slice of pizza or grabbing desert is not going to hurt you – just eat it in moderation. If you have a bad day and you don’t eat healthy all day, just try again tomorrow. Find balance and find what works for you.
How do you eat healthy on campus? Let me know in the comments below!