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Eating healthy on a college campus

Originally published September 24, 2010

It’s a typical day in the college dorm. You wake up before class and chug a cup of coffee to start your day.

Between classes and studying, microwavable foods such as Easy Mac and Ramen noodles hold you over until you pass out face down in the calculus book you’ve been arbitrarily staring at for countless hours.

Not only does a diet like this deprive you of energy needed to complete a busy day of academics,  but you miss out on essential nutrients. Despite a crammed schedule, healthy eating habits are within your grasp.

Here are some things to help you avoid the “freshman 15” ( or maybe even 30?) by eating healthy on a college campus.

First, set up a budget. We all know that money is limited to the typical college student.

Figure out how much money you have to spend on food and then figure out what that amount comes out to per day.

Eating in the cafeteria is relatively cheap but if this dining environment doesn’t suit you, campuses are usually surrounded by cheap dining facilities.

The second step toward healthy eating is time management. It is important that you set aside time out of the day to eat healthy.

We have all heard that breakfast is “brain food” and though some may think this is a myth, it is true.

Eating a healthy breakfast will give you the fuel you need to study. Give yourself enough time in the morning to grab some yogurt and granola or a bowl of cereal to kick-start your day.

Williams cafeteria features these items as well as low-sugar, high-fiber cereals such as Raisin Bran.
Caffeine, the college student’s weapon of choice, will only last so long.

The next essential step is keeping healthy snacks in your room at all times. If you eat healthy snacks between meals, you are less likely to go overboard on the fried chicken and mashed potatoes from the cafeteria we all know and love.

Stock up on items such as apples, bananas, celery, carrots, granola bars and 100 percent fruit juices. Fresh produce is easily attainable and relatively cheap.

When it comes to eating in the cafeteria, healthy substitutions are becoming more widespread.

Some healthy substitutions include using low fat or low calorie salad dressings, grilled foods instead of fried, oatmeal instead of muffins or donuts, 100 percent fruit juice or low-fat milk instead of soda, and frozen yogurt in place of ice cream.

Also take into consideration the portion sizes of your meals. Keep in mind most people highly overestimate correct portions of food.

If you’re in doubt, take a smaller amount and come back for seconds if you are still hungry. It takes some time for your body to realize that it is full, so do not rush.

What if you’re a vegetarian? Or lactose intolerant? The good news is there are healthy options for everyone.

Besides the typical vegetable items, vegetarians can choose to eat foods such as a Boca burger, which contains no meat and is made with soy. It is loaded with protein that many vegetarians may miss out on.

For those who can’t eat dairy,  Geisert cafeteria offers several non-dairy items daily such as soy milk, rice milk, soy yogurt and soy pudding.

Just remember, the next time you sit down to study for an exam, make sure you have eaten the proper amount of food before doing so. Take time out of the day to eat and go about it in a healthy manner.

The available healthy options are becoming more widespread and convenient, and they are quite suitable for the non-stop lifestyle of a college student. By doing so, your brain will be focused on your studying and not your stomach. Remember: feed your head. 

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