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Friday’s Flavor: Easy ways to eat healthy

The whole idea of eating healthy can sometimes seem overwhelming. 
It is difficult as a college student to eat healthy, well-balanced meals that are also cheap, fast and convenient, but it can be done!
By integrating some of these tips in your day-to-day life, you can start to have a healthier diet without putting a lot of time or effort into it. 
Changing your eating habits little by little will eventually lead to a more nutritious lifestyle. 
Package it yourself:
Prepare small baggies of healthy snacks yourself after you get home from the store.  
Portioning out your own baby carrots, pretzels or sliced strawberries into baggies will make it easier to grab one on the way to class or work instead of choosing a bag of chips or candy. 
Make simple swaps:
If you are looking to cut calories, make simple trades in the foods you already eat. 
Get your sandwich with mustard instead of mayonnaise or ask for balsamic vinaigrette instead of ranch on your salad.
Just don’t buy it: If you want to cut out unhealthy extras, just don’t buy them!
You can’t eat that box of cookies if you don’t buy it.
Fill your fridge and pantry with quick and healthy foods such as raw veggies, sliced fruit, cheese sticks and granola bars. 
Don’t cut food groups: To have a healthy diet, you don’t have to cut out entire food groups.  Including all of the food groups into your eating plan is necessary to be sure you are getting all of the nutrients your body needs to function properly, for a strong immune system, and to maintain a healthy weight. 
Drink enough water: 100 percent juices and low fat milk can fit great into a healthy eating plan, but substituting water for sugary soda or fruit-flavored beverages can be beneficial to maintain your health and also help your waistline. 
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store: Healthy foods are found mostly on the outer edges of the grocery store, such as produce, whole grain breads, dairy products, fish and poultry.  Most of the processed and less healthy foods are located within the center aisles, so shop the perimeter for your best choices. 
Make half of your plate veggies: When choosing foods in the cafeteria, try and fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, and only 1/4 protein, such as chicken or turkey, and 1/4 starch, such as rice or potatoes. 
This will get you to eat more vegetables which are lower in calories and higher in dietary fiber than a meal mainly composed of meat. 
Eat Breakfast: Skipping breakfast can lead to eating more later on in the day and missing out on an opportunity to get in a healthy serving of whole grains or fruit.  Some quick breakfast ideas include baggies of your favorite healthy cereal portioned out, granola bars such as Kashi bars, or pieces of whole fruit such as bananas or apples. 
Anything you can eat on your way to class will be convenient so you never miss out on this important meal.
Recognize the times you tend to eat unhealthy: If you’re aware of when you tend to make bad eating choices, it will be easier to avoid them. If you always give in to the vending machine while studying late at the library, then don’t bring money with you so you can’t buy anything. If you tend to overdo the snacking while chatting with your roommate, find something else to occupy your attention so you don’t reach for the junk food.
Once you get in the habit of making small eating changes, having a healthy diet will become second nature. Being healthy doesn’t mean being perfect and there are always setbacks, but by always trying to eat better tomorrow than you did today, anyone can achieve a nutritious diet. 
Friday’s Flavor is edited for accuracy by Amanda Newell of the dietetics program.
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