Dos and don’ts for eating healthy in college
There you are, staring at all the different options in the cafeteria or food court. Pizza, burgers, fries, chicken wings—all your favorites lined up for you to choose from. Greasy food may be satisfying for the first couple weeks of school, but after you pack on those extra pounds, you’re likely craving a salad or a fresh sandwich. But where can you turn to find healthy options on campus? Healthy eating on campus doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. There are a lot of wonderful alternatives to keep the pounds off and get back to a healthy you. This article will give you some tips on how to limit less nutritious items and find healthy alternatives.
Do: Practice portion control. Don’t: Overeat.
Many times, students gain weight because they eat much more than they need to. With all the options available to them, portion control can be very difficult to practice, but portion control is your best friend when trying to lose or maintain weight. Managing portion control is also vital to a healthy lifestyle. One of the best ways to practice portion control is to fill half of your plate with vegetables. Eating a larger volume of this nutrition-dense choice helps fill you up and makes it easier to consume appropriate portion sizes of other food groups. This can go for drinks as well. For example, if you’re treating yourself to a Starbucks drink, cut down on the sugar content by ordering a “short” (eight ounces) or asking for only one pump of syrup (the usual is three). You can still eat the foods you love—just eat less of them! When you know that you’re full, stop eating. Don’t overeat. Remember, if you’re practicing portion control, you’ll put less on your plate, and you will be less likely to overeat.
Do: Find healthy alternatives. Don’t: Choose junk food.
People tend to gravitate toward junk food because it’s a quick fix for hunger. Many junk foods have healthier alternatives that you can get used to eating, or you can try smaller portions of the not-so-good food. Let’s say you really want macaroni and cheese. Have a small portion of mac and cheese, and complement it with ample vegetables. That way, you’re not missing out on your craving, and you’re still making a healthier choice by eating lots of veggies. If you’re only option is a fast food restaurant, first check out the calories, which are usually listed on the menu or online. Opt for an item with under 600 calories. Check out restaurants around campus; there are plenty of places with healthy alternatives. Diners, Mediterranean restaurants, and vegan/vegetarian restaurants all offer healthy meals that are affordable and quick.
Do: Be aware and be prepared. Don’t: Give up!
One reason people don’t eat healthier is because they don’t think it’s possible. But healthy eating is possible, and healthy alternatives can be found. Remember to be aware of both what you are eating and how much you are eating. If you know that you have a long day ahead of you, prepare some food ahead of time or schedule time to eat. If you plan ahead for places you can find healthy foods, you are less likely to choose quicker, unhealthier options.
Don’t give up! Healthy eating is doable on campus. Be prepared and know where the healthy restaurants are. Choose healthy alternatives and work on portion control. You will be on track with your healthy eating in no time. And if you don’t feel like you can tackle it on your own, then swing by the Campus Health Center to make a free appointment with our registered dietitian.