5 healthy eating habits for college students

A healthy lifestyle is important for maintaining wellbeing through all stages of life.

One of the most important parts of living healthfully, along with regular exercise and adequate sleep, is eating a well-constructed diet. As a busy college student with time constraints and limited income, this can be a difficult task, but you can make it easier by developing these five habits to sustain healthy eating throughout your college years and beyond.

 

Cook Your Own Meals

If you haven't yet learned how to cook, now is the time. While eating out is often the easier and faster way to dine, it's usually not the healthiest, or the most cost effective. Because you don't see the preparation process for your food when eating out, it can be difficult to know just how much salt or sugar has been added to your food. While most places offer calorie estimates for their meals, it's difficult to know the exact amount of what you're eating without overseeing the preparation yourself. Save eating out for a treat with friends and make the majority of meals yourself. Prepackaged foods are usually packed full of salts and sugars to make them flavorful, and are also not the best option for a healthy diet. Buying separate ingredients to make meals is also usually cheaper than buying food that's ready to eat. If time constraints on your schedule make it difficult to prepare your own meals, make extra when you do cook, and then eat the leftovers on those days when you don't have time to cook.

 

Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand

On those days when you're in class and studying for long hours at a time, you're bound to get hungry. Nowadays, many college campuses do offer healthy alternatives to traditional snacks, but they can be expensive. Bring your own healthy snacks to eat at your leisure and keep yourself sated so that you're less likely to buy unhealthy meals or snacks from the school stores or nearby restaurants. Not only will this help you eat healthier, but it's also an effective way to save money.

 

Eat Vegetables

While there are many different diets that offer sometimes conflicting advice, one thing that most nutritionists and diet plans advocate is eating vegetables. That is because vegetables are full of important vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function properly. Vegetables are also low in density, meaning you can eat a lot of them without gaining much or any weight. If you don't like vegetables, try experimenting with different types of vegetables and different recipes until you find something that you enjoy. Dark leafy vegetables like spinach or kale offer the most nutrients per calorie, but eating any type of vegetable is better than not eating any at all.

 

Watch Your Portions

One of the biggest contributions to weight gain is over eating. It's very easy to misjudge how much you are consuming in one day, especially if you eat while distracted, such as while you're studying or watching television. An easy solution to this is to simply use smaller plates and bowls when serving yourself a meal. This will cut down on your portion sizes without making the plate seem empty, as we humans generally like to fill up a plate before eating. Be aware of how much you're eating throughout the day, and this will help prevent future weight gain.

 

Limit Sugar and Alcohol

While sugar and alcohol are enjoyable to consume, neither are particularly healthy for our bodies and can contribute to weight gain. You don't have to cut either out entirely, but do watch your intake. Instead of snacking on candy or drinking a beer during your at home study session, switch to a healthy alternative like carrot sticks and water, and save the treats and alcohol for special occasions when you're out celebrating with your friends.

 

Tess Pajaron has a background in business administration and management. She currently works at Open Colleges, Australia’s leading online educator, and writes frequently about careers, marketing, and leadership.

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