Anyone who’s been to college has heard of the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen.” Fast food stores on every corner of campus combined with no more parents, lack of cooking experience, and lots of homework is the perfect recipe for some quick weight gain. And late-night Domino’s deliveries don’t do anyone any favors when it comes to healthy eating.
Fortunately, this “Freshman Fifteen” is not a foregone conclusion. Healthy eating is possible in college, even if it takes a little more self-control and self-restraint than one would expect from your average 18-year old.
Keep reading to hear about four of our tips for a healthy college diet.
1: Side Salads
Often, it’s not the entrees but the extra sides that can add up. For example, a Big Mac and order of large fries adds up to 1,040 calories, 54 g of fat, and 108 g of carbs. Substitute a side salad for those fries, however, and those numbers drop to a much more manageable 560 calories, 29 g of fat, and 49 g of carbs. This doesn’t require a drastic life change as much as just a little bit of health consciousness when it comes to the extras.
2: Careful with the Caffeine
One of the most dangerous college habits is the caffeine-binge all-nighter. Diabetes experts warn that caffeine in substantial amounts is not healthy for anyone. Though it’s sometimes unavoidable, the detrimental effects of late-night Monsters or coffee can’t be ignored.
What’s the solution? Don’t skip your meals. Load up on lean meats, veggies, and fruit to get your energy in a consistent and sustainable form. If you do it right, you may not even need those all-nighters in the first place.
3: Late-Night Munchies
We get it. It’s after midnight, you wolfed down dinner 6 hours ago, and you’re still hungry. You have Domino’s on speed dial, and a whole pizza sounds delicious right about now. Guess what: you don’t have to go hungry. But you also don’t need the Domino’s. Try something a little bit lighter. Popcorn or dark chocolate, for example, can both be really filling without loading you up on the pizza-level carbs and calories. Snack in moderation.
4: Slowwwww Downnnnnnn
College is fast. You have classes to be at, homework to finish, club meetings, social events, sports practice, and you promised to call your mom tonight. One area that doesn’t need to be rushed is eating. RD Dr. Jane Osowski says her #1 healthy eating tip is “Slow down and listen to your body when you eat. Mindful eating.” You’re racing through the rest of your day, so use mealtimes as your chance to relax and compose yourself. It makes everything else much easier to manage if you can recharge every once in a while.