Healthy Eating, Not an Easy Feat!
Can you eat healthy at college? It can be hard to eat healthfully when away at college. Meal plans, rushing to and from classes and activities, budgets, the amount of burger, pizza, and fast-food restaurants surrounding IU, and, of course, late-night food runs definitely compromise student’s plan to not gain the Freshman 15 and stay in shape. (Please note I did not mention the calories that come with a few drinks, but the reality is they often work into the equation.) Don’t get discouraged yet though.
Today’s college students are demanding higher quality foods varied in taste and economically priced. There are several apps that many students can download for the latest promotions and deals at some of their favorite places. These include GoPuff, Hooked, and Pocket Points. Here are some of IU students’ favorites and a few ideas that may help your students stay on track and healthy.
- Bloomington Sandwich– Missing home? These sandwiches will take you back to the sandwiches your mom used to make you as a kid- but better, and healthy!
- Chop Shop– You can try a new salad every day of the week and you will still have a variety of salads left to try. Chop Shop packs there salads with such unique, scrumptious items that will make anyone become a salad lover.
- Darn Good Soup– Who doesn’t love a nice, hot soup in the wintertime? Darn Good Soup has 8-10 homemade soups on a daily basis that are to die for! They serve vegan and vegetarian soups as well.
- Laughing Planet Cafe– Imagine being able to eat that amazing Mexican food you have been craving- without eating all the salty, greasy food. This vegan cafe is filled with delectable Mexican style meals made with organic, nutritious vegetables from local Bloomington farms.
- Restaurant Ami– For fast service and good food, I would definitely recommend trying this Japanese cuisine. Their menu is full of healthy Japanese and Korean options. They also have lunch deals on Tuesdays so make sure you don’t miss them!
- The Owlery Restaurant– Temporarily closed. This adorable, little restaurant is known for healthifying your traditional American foods. I would definitely recommend trying the Coconut Macadamia Tofu or the ranch chicken wrap.
- Even at fast-food restaurants, many offer healthy alternatives including salads, grilled proteins, and veggie burgers. At most restaurants, even if they don’t have healthy entrees, they typically have healthy side options.
- Carry healthy snack options in your backpack. There are lots of low-sugar, high-protein bars available now. Buy them in bulk and grab one before you leave for the day. Fruit and granola bars are always a good choice. Apples and bananas work well when you’re in a hurry.
- Try to get up early enough that you don’t have to skip breakfast. Things haven’t changed in that respect; breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. Keep oatmeal packets close by or get to the dining room early enough to eat. My favorite fast breakfast that gives me hours of energy is a breakfast taco including my favorite veggies and eggs.
- Try to get protein in every meal. You will stay full longer. If you have a meal plan, make a point of starting meals with a salad. Salad bars offer many choices (some better than others, so be careful). Go easy on the creamy dressings. Once you finish your salad, even if it is pizza you are eating after, you most likely won’t eat as much of it. Speaking of meal plans –grab those apples and bananas to take back to your room now after you’re done eating.
- Work meals into your schedule. While it can be nice to take all your classes back to back on Tuesday and Thursday only; if it leaves you no time for eating in between, it’s not as great a plan as you thought. You may end up binge eating or grabbing some less thought out meals in between classes. And if you do eat in the dining room; try not to linger. That’s when you end up going back up for the seconds (or thirds) you really don’t need.
- Don’t drink your calories. Yes, I am talking about beer, wine, liquor, but I am also referring to sugary sodas, ice tea, lemonade, sports drinks, etc. Water is truly the best thirst quencher and it is so good for you. Carry a reusable water bottle everywhere. I crave a drink other than water a lot so instead of soda, I am always drinking tea. I recommend students carry several tea bags around in their bag so when they are studying or going to class you can stop at the local cafe to get some hot water. This trick has also saved my bank account and daily trips to Starbucks!
If you want to enjoy some of the junkier meals (we all do at some point), at least opt for the less processed option. For instance, Annie makes mac-n-cheese that have a lot less junk in it than others. Peanut butter, a great source of protein, comes in many varieties. Try to find the one with the least amount of additives. There are even healthier choices in ramen noodles and then you can add some veggies to them and maybe even an egg and you are good to go.
I always have a sweet tooth so I have come up with a few deserts that satisfy my cravings and are also lower cal. My favorite dessert is frozen bananas dipped in dark chocolate and peanut butter. If I am craving ice cream, I freeze any fruit I have (watermelon is my favorite) and put it in the blender with a little bit of lemon and it comes out to be the most dreamy, amazing sorbet. If you are craving candy, like I often do, I recommend trying Smart Sweets. Smart Sweets are a plant-based candy option that is very low in sugar and calories- and taste just as good (I promise). They have knocked off versions of your childhood favorites- Sweetish Fish, gummy bears, sour patch kids, Peach rings, and more! These healthy candy alternatives would also make a great care package.
For those of you that cook in your apartment; invest in some plastic storage containers. This way when you make a meal you can make enough to store it in portions for more meals. Cook things like rice and quinoa in bulk and use them as needed. They last and can be put into or with so many other things. Plan ahead. Think about your schedule of classes and everything else. Even study time, when snacking can be practically essential, takes planning. It will just make it easier and studying will go better if you are eating smart snacks rather than things that will make you full and tired.
And, if you live off-campus and just do not have the time nor discipline for healthy eating, check out some of the Meal Kit companies we recommend. Many have healthy options and are quick and easy to make.
For the fitness approach to keeping the Freshman 15 at bay, please visit our Staying Fit blog for all the ways you can stay healthy at IU. And cheers to health, fitness, and happiness!
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