Have you noticed that since you began university life, you don’t have quite as much energy as you’d like? Or perhaps, you’ve noticed that you’ve gained a few pounds since you started? You might be attributing that to the more hectic pace of life that you’re now living, but it probably has at least something to do with the way your eating. It can be very difficult to eat healthy in college.
It probably will not be possible to change perpetual on-the-go eating habits that university life brings, to a completely healthy diet, but here are a few steps that can at least turn it in the right direction.
Go easy on fast food and junk food
Fast food and junk food seem to be an integral part of university life, and there are at least three compelling reasons why this is true:
- Fast food and junk food are quick – they’re the closest thing to food on demand.
- Fast food and junk food are easy – they usually involve little or no preparation on your part.
- Fast food and junk food are easy on the budget – they generally cost less than eating healthier food and meals.
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But all of those advantages aside, junk food and fast food are not at all healthy. This is especially true if they become the mainstays of your diet. University life probably does not allow for a complete cut off of these foods, so the best you can hope to do is to minimize them – and minimize them you should.
This will require some advanced consideration – or even preparation – on your part. No, that’s not terribly convenient. But the advantage is that you will find yourself eating better if you can begin substituting some healthier food choices for fast food and junk food.
Make better meal choices
When it is mealtime, you can make a better effort to emphasize healthier food choices. Hopefully, most of your meals are being consumed on campus where you can generally do better with your food choices than you can at a fast food restaurant or convenience store.
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Go heavier on fruits, vegetables, and salads, and stay away from high-fat foods, such as French fries, pizza, hamburgers and ice cream.
Stock up on healthy snack choices
University life involves a whole lot of eating on-the-fly, and this is an unfortunate situation that must be prepared for in advance, because it cannot be eliminated.
Stock up on healthy snacks, such as fruit, nuts, whole wheat crackers and raisins. The point is to avoid having to make “emergency runs” to get less healthy food choices, and to have better choices readily available.
Focus on portion control
When you are eating meals, no matter where you are, put a greater emphasis on portion control. This will help you to avoid over-eating and gaining weight.
There is sometimes a temptation to try and engage in calorie counting. After all, if you were to go on a comprehensive diet, this would likely be part of your eating process. However, university life doesn’t leave much room for counting calories. You have to walk around with a calculator in your pocket – and maybe even a notepad – that way you can count and record the calories you consume during the day. But you have enough on your plate with school and after school activities, without having to be a mathematician with your food.
Portion control is much simpler. It is a visual process, and all you need to do is to set in your mind that you need to eat portions that are least a little bit smaller than you are normally used to. That will not only help you with weight control, but will also stop you from eating too much of the wrong foods whenever you’re in that situation.
Don’t skip meals
Binge eating might be more the rule than the exception with university students. There are times of the day when your schedule is loaded, or when you’re cramming for exams, and you don’t have time to eat. Fast food and junk food just call out to you during those times, and seem like natural choices.
While that may seem to be a solution to scheduling problems, it wreaks havoc with your diet. If you go long stretches without eating, not only will you begin to feel tired and run down, but once there is an opportunity to eat you’ll almost certainly make the wrong choices. Once again we get back to the fact that fast food and junk food are quick, cheap, and easy. But they’re also unhealthy, and best avoided!
Worse, when you get past the point of being hungry, there is a greater likelihood that you will overheat (or binge).
Whenever you miss meals, you raise the likelihood of this outcome. For that reason, it is extremely important that you eat balanced meals as close to your eating schedule possible. And lay in an adequate supply of healthy snacks to get you through those times when a regular meal isn’t available.
Have you noticed that your dietary habits have gotten a bit lax since school started? What are you doing to eat better?