Healthful Eating and the College Student

Healthful Eating and the College Student

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You were raised to eat a certain way while at home. Hopefully, that way incorporated a lot of sound eating habits, what can contribute to good health overall. At college, the atmosphere is quite different — you no longer have your parents managing your diet. And, you’ve met more than one person whose definition of a good meal includes all the bad stuff you want to avoid. Here is how embrace healthful eating while at college.

Know your options.

Most college students have access to the college cafeteria, enjoying a meal plan that provides them with up to 21 meals per week. It can be one of the most sensible ways to eat and a time saver too — you don’t cook for yourself and you do enjoy foods you might otherwise not get.

Meal plans can be tailored to your budget too. Some schools provide plans of 10 to 14 meals per week, requiring students to fend for themselves for their remaining meals. Besides being financially advantageous, these options allow students to seek food elsewhere, such as in their dorm or while at work.

Review the menu.

College cafeterias typically follow a set menu with special items served throughout the week. On close scrutiny you will find an assortment of good foods, including fresh fruit, steamed vegetables, whole grains and protein.

A salad bar can provide much of what you want, but avoid the fatty dressings and choose the oil and vinegar instead. Croutons, though delicious, should be used sparingly — if at all. Avoid the soda dispenser and drink water instead. Skip the dessert display if you want to maintain good caloric intake.

Stock up in your room.

You may not get to every meal at the cafeteria. For those meals you miss, you can access food in your dorm room. It is a good idea to keep an assortment of foods on hand, including protein bars, fresh fruit, yogurt and nuts.

If you stock canned foods, choose low-sodium and natural sugar alternatives. Some foods are simply unhealthy and can cause you to put on weight fast.

Snack choices too.

If you stay up late to study for a test or to work on a paper, the cravings may set in. You may be tempted to eat fried snacks, guzzle a soda or eat a candy bar.

What you really need is a slight energy boost that won’t make you feel hungry or jittery the way a cold soda or coffee can. Water, hot tea, fruit and nuts can tide you over before you turn in for the night.

Watch the parties.

Few parties on or off campus are conducive to promoting good eating habits. If you want to be with your friends, eating at home or in the cafeteria before you go out is the wise choice.

That doesn’t mean you can never have pizza, eat potato chips or enjoy a slice of cake. It just means that you set limits and you don’t allow yourself to eat anything offering little or no nutritional value except for special occasions. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages too — you’ll put on weight and you may put yourself in a vulnerable situation.

Keep on track.

Eating healthful is just one part of the equation — you need to exercise too. Participate in intramural sports, ride your bicycle on campus, join the college gym and find other ways to stay fit.

Track your progress by weighing yourself weekly and if you are feeling sick, head to the college clinic immediately. You can’t afford to miss many classes if a cold or fever knock you down.

Healthful Eating

For students that embrace sound eating choices, healthful eating has become easier because most colleges are also for that. The diet you maintain while you are in your young adult years can serve you as you get older, enabling you to maintain your weight and your health well into your golden years.

See AlsoThe Pros and Cons of Dorm Life

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Categories: Personal Advice