The first day of class is quickly approaching, Hilltoppers!!
Whether you are a freshman, senior, or anywhere in between, eating healthy in college is so important. We understand that there is so much to take on – between homework, going to class, tests, extracurricular activities…it can get crazy. However, eating healthy can not only enhance your physical health, but can positively impact your intellectual and emotional well being! You will feel better and be a better student if you can learn how to successfully fuel your body.
Here are the “ugly” truths:
- During the first 3-4 months of college, students gain an average of 1.5-6.8 pounds, with the proportion of overweight or obese students as much as doubling by the end of the first semester. (Found by studies done on college students at NYU)
- The prevalence of obesity among young adults has more than doubled in the past 30 years. (NHANES, National Health and Nutrition Education Survey)
- NHANES data illustrates that a majority of young adults (aged 20-29) consume less than 1 serving a day of fruit and vegetables.
Weight is not the only issue. It is important to establish healthy eating habits while in college because, believe it or not, we are becoming the people we will likely be for the rest of our lives. The habits we create now will follow us. While you may finally have the freedom to eat at 2 am, gorge on pizza, and only drink coffee for breakfast, we at Hilltopper Nutrition encourage you to make an effort to create healthy habits!
We have come up with a list of 10 tips that can make eating healthy in college a little bit simpler.
- Eat Breakfast!
- If it’s been said once, it’s been said 1,000 times – breakfast is so important!! Breakfast is like a jump start to your metabolism. When you eat breakfast you’re telling your body that it has enough calories to get through the day. When you skip breakfast, the message your body gets is that it needs to conserve calories.
- Studies have found that although people who skip breakfast eat slightly fewer calories during the day, they tend to have higher body mass index, or BMI
- Breakfast ideas: High-fiber cereal with fresh fruit and milk, toast with peanut butter and banana, oats topped with fresh fruit, yogurt with honey, eggs with veggies … even a protein bar, granola bar, or a piece of fruit is better than NOTHING. Please eat breakfast 🙂
- Learn the dining hall and utilize resources.
- There are several restaurants on WKU’s campus that provide healthy options. If you would like a list of the healthiest options at various locations, come see us in the Health Services Building. We would be so glad to help you!!
- Learn where restaurants are that are near your classes so you will know where to go when hunger strikes. There’s nothing worse than sitting in class and hearing your stomach rumble.
- When eating in Fresh Foods, opt for the salad first. Sit down with just your salad and finish it, then go back for more. You are less likely to overeat this way. Plus – the salad bar at Fresh is fantastic!
- Stock up on healthy staples.
- Your dorm refrigerator is not just there for leftovers and soda! Use it to always have healthy snacks on hand. You are more likely to eat food that is available to you.
- Examples: Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, multi-grain crackers, veggies and hummus, microwave popcorn, trail mix, energy bites, overnight oats, yogurt, water bottles, salsa
- Always take the fruit.
- In most dining halls on college campuses, there are baskets of apples/oranges/bananas, etc. sitting out. While you may not want one with your meal that day, take one and stick it in your backpack!! This leads us to our next tip…
- Bring a snack to class or wherever you go, whenever you can!
- It’s really not good for your body to deprive yourself. When you are hungry, you need fuel. It is always a good idea to have a pack of crackers, a piece of fruit, a granola bar… something… in your backpack or purse. This way you never have to worry about going hungry!
- Don’t waste all of your calories on liquids.
- You knew this was coming!
- Beverages may not fill you up, but they sure can help fatten you up and have a detrimental effect on your overall health.
- One of the #1 reasons why college students gain the freshmen 15 is because of liquid calories, whether it be alcohol, Starbucks, or sodas.
- You can still have a good time without consuming all the calories that come along with binging on beer. Drink in moderation and you can have a good time without hurting your health.
- At places like Starbucks or Einsteins, choose regular coffee or tea with light cream and honey.
- BUT DO DRINK WATER.
- Drinking water can boost your concentration as well as keep you from overeating. Stay hydrated throughout the day by investing in a water bottle and bringing it to class with you.
8. Try to eat fruits and vegetables. Just try!!!
- Even if fruits and vegetables don’t comprise some of your favorite foods, try to incorporate at least a few of them into your diet each day
9. Don’t fight stress by eating.
- College can be stressful.. we know, we’ve been there!!
- It can be tempting to reach for a bag of chips or some cookies when you’re stressed out about an impending exam. Eating won’t help your stress go away. Try working out or taking a break instead.
- This is also why having healthy snacks accessible is so important. If you must eat, at least grab a snack that will fuel your brain!
10. Lastly, listen to your body.
- Don’t skip meals.
- If you’re hungry eat!
- Learn how to eat until you are full.
- Your body is designed to give you cues about when it needs refueling – listen to it!
It is possible to eat healthy in college. And, like we have said, we are here to help. If you have any questions, feel free to come visit us!!