When college students head back to school, more often than not, healthy eating habits slide to the wayside. Busy class schedules combined with late nights studying and part-time jobs take the place of meal planning and following healthy eating tips for college students. But need those enrolled in higher education let their health suffer?
Absolutely not. With the right planning, anyone enrolled in uni, regardless of budget, can enjoy healthy, well-balanced meals. Read on to learn eight healthy eating tips for college students to provide the nutrition they need to make the grade.
1. Start the Day Off Right
Everyone has heard the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” The cliche survives because it’s true. Breakfast gets the metabolism and your digestive tract moving and provides students with a nutritional boost to energize their day.
The thought of rolling out of bed more than 5 minutes prior to that 8 a.m. class too daunting? Try making these chocolate hemp smoothies the night before in the dorm blender, so they’re ready to grab and go the next day. The hemp seeds and almond butter provide protein to fuel students until lunch, and the chocolate and banana make drinkers the envy of their famished classmates.
2. Include Fruits and Veggies at Every Meal
Scientists learn more about phytonutrients, the substances which give plants their colors and which benefit human health, every day. College students looking to get adequate nutrition do well to include at least one serving of fruits and vegetables at every meal.
At breakfast, load up on fresh fruit parfaits. Buy baby carrots and pack mini snacks with ranch dip in reusable containers to snack on during class. And yes, students can indulge in avocado toast now and then — it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids and everyone deserves the occasional splurge.
3. Fill Half a Plate at the Salad Bar
In a side-by-side comparison, plant-based proteins outperform their animal counterparts every time. So even students who love nothing more than hitting the weight room hard after class do well to fill up half their plate at the salad bar.
Select dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard. Add varieties in a plethora of colors — yellow squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, purple cabbage, radishes, etc. Plants lower in calories, and filling half a plate at the salad bar helps stave off the dreaded freshmen 15.
4. Stock Up on Nuts and Seeds
Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and sunflower seeds all contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids as well as a host of other nutrients. Nuts like walnuts may improve memory function, so noshing on a mix from the health food store before a big exam can boost performance.
5. Keep Healthy, Light Snacks in Your Room
Academics whose parents ask what they can buy them for their dorm room do well to answer, “An air popcorn maker.” Consuming light snacks like air-popped popcorn is one of the best healthy eating tips for college students. Strive to select popcorn that contains less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Other low-calorie snack ideas include celery sticks, which may ease digestive distress, yogurt, which can reduce pain associated with chronic inflammatory conditions and low-fat string cheese, which weighs in at only 50 calories per snack.
6. Pass on Skipping Meals
Don’t automatically blame the occasional all-nighter for chronic fatigue. Research shows women who regularly skip meals experience headaches and dizziness along with overwhelming tiredness. If hitting the caff isn’t an option due to time constraints, sip a meal replacement drink or a natural nutritional bar to maintain blood sugar levels until there’s time for a more complete dining experience.
7. Explore New Flavors
Trying new things is part of the college experience, so when visiting the cafeteria, hit the international stations. Tempeh, for example, contains a huge amount of probiotics, but few in the west regularly enjoy this fermented treat. Exploring new flavors from all over the world introduces palates to new nutritional profiles.
Staying in the dorm room and making ramen in a hot pot? There’s no reason not to add new flavors and get your veggie serving. Try adding cilantro, carrot, radishes, broccoli, bok choy — the options for spicing up your noodle bowl stretch on endlessly.
8. Keep Well Hydrated
Alcohol consumed at a keg party does not count as hydration. In fact, alcohol decreases the level of an anti-diuretic hormone which is why the saying, “Once you break the seal,” exists — booze increases urinary output, leading to speedier dehydration. Living on caffeine proves no better. While one or two cuppas pose no harm to those who aren’t caffeine-sensitive, too much can increase the diuretic effect.
College students benefit from investing in a reusable water bottle (or three, in case one gets grimy and there’s no time to do dishes). Carrying a water bottle everywhere reminds busy undergrads and graduate students alike to drink up throughout the day.
Healthy Eating Tips for College Students
Going back to school need not mean gaining weight or falling prey to unhealthy habits. By following these healthy eating tips for college students, those at uni can both protect their health and supercharge their academic progress.