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101 Guide to Eating Right Away from Home: College Edition

college freshmen looking over notes

Around the months of August and September it signifies a time for students to go on back to school. Meaning students must be prepared to handle course work, a social life, and maintain stable health. For those going off to college, some are moving away from home and family members and into dorms and shared living spaces. Young adults are no longer reliant on their family members to make the home cooked meals they dearly enjoy. Instead they eat at the food halls located on campus and/or the nearest fast food restaurants outside of campus grounds. For incoming students this may cause what's referred to as the freshman 15 where weight gain is to be expected. Studies have shown that food insecurity seems to impact 11 to 45 percent of college students, where healthy food choices are unlikely to be made. Regardless they can be costly on a student’s pockets and detrimental to the student’s body and health.

Here are nine nutritional tips college students can use to ensure they have a flourishing school semester in body and mind:

eating a healthy snack

1.Exercise portion control and recognize emotional impulses

It is key to know how much food to intake and what state of mind to do so to avoid bloating, overeating, stress eating, and weight gain. It is recommended to have a colorful plate for almost every meal that would include lean protein, heart-healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Proteins to consider are poultry, beef, fish, and pork. For vegetarians/vegans this can be lentils, eggs, and nut and nut butters. Heart healthy fats are olive oil, coconut oil, corn oil, and avocado oil. Having smaller plates with each of these group foods allows the consumer to pace themselves and recognize the difference between fullness and hunger. When it comes to eating out of emotional impulses it is said to be better not to eat when stressed, tired, angry, or sad. It is better to work with any healing or stress-relieving strategy than distract oneself with food. When eating under high emotional stress you are less likely to practice portion control and overstuff yourself. Being in a calm and conscious state out of bed/dorm that can induce sleep or reminder of the stress is for better on your stomachs and nervous systems.

2. Store away snacks and various food items


Moving in the dorms can be such an exciting time because of all the items you got to decorate your dorm room. However, don't forget to stock up your fridge with fresh fruits, refridged meals , low calorie chips and plenty of water to hydrate yourself while you explore the campus. Keeping such items in your fridge throughout the day allows you to spend less money and travel time trying to find a place to eat. Your body will thank you for filling it with the energy that it needs than the artificial sugars and greased foods that are offered by the vending machines on campus.

3.Go beyond the distance

Discover restaurants and eating spots that may be further away from campus and require you to walk a greater distance. It’s a great way to explore the new city and area you are in and you get your steps in for the day. You can think of it as earning the meal you ate. The restaurants can offer smoothies, veggie grilled sandwiches, or frozen yogurt if you are in the mood for a sweet treat.

4. Fast Food= Think Smart

freshman eating fast food

If you decide that you don’t want to walk a far distance for your meal then think carefully when eating from the food hall on campus or fast food places outside of the campus. Think about what will give you the most energy and fuel for your day instead of what looks to be the most mouth-watering. Sometimes the meals with the most grease and calories will leave you sluggish for the day. Familiar and affordable restaurants that offer filling and health options are Chipotle and Panera. They offer hearty salads and

5. Establish a eating routine

young woman planning healthy meal options

Be more intentional with your meals and meal times. It can be helpful to have an eating routine that makes you think less of what you will eat and where you will go to eat. You can have consistent time to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some questions that could help with starting one are:

What will those meals look like?

Heavy or light?

Would you have a snack in between the meals?

How much water do you plan to drink with these meals?

What is too late to resume eating?

late night partying, drinking with friends

6. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption

College for students mainly can consist of late night studying or late night partying. There are no limitations on how much coffee one needs to stay awake or how much alcohol they would want to have a good time. Everything should be taken in moderation as one or the other can cause insomnia, headaches, and weakness in the immune system. In order to maintain a better state of mind to attend classes or learn effectively, it would be better to prioritize rest as much as possible. Knowing your tolerance for alcohol would help with not experiencing a hangover the next day. If you are seeking the energy coffee offers, think about tea beverages such as chai, matcha, and kombucha that don't give you the jitters and offer you gut health.

7. Get cooking

If your dorm building offers an available kitchen for students to use, it might be best to use such a resource for meal planning. You can go grocery shopping for the week and cook a big meal that can be packed away in small containers and stored away in your dorm fridge. It’s the healthier version of the refridged food found in the frozen aisle of any supermarket.

8. Start the day off right

breakfast yogurt, strawberries and almonds

It has been said so many times but is always a true statement. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The food that touches your stomach first thing in the warm doesn’t have to be heavy like a bowl of oatmeal but can be light like a bowl of fruit. Eating breakfast will give your mind less impulsive thoughts to go towards eating anything and everything in sight out of a hunger response.

group of college students walking

9. Take needed vitamins

If you choose to not abide by any of these tips of eating a more nutritious and colorful platelet and instead go towards eating ramen bowls and fresh fries, I recommend buying essential vitamins. Important ones for anyone would be vitamin D, iron, B-12, and vitamin C. Not eating enough fruit or leafy greens can lead you to develop a deficiency so just in case keep any of these on hand just in case you experience sleepiness that rest cannot fix.


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