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Stay Healthy And Happy In College: Nutrition Tips

Eliza Moley |
September 12, 2014 | 12:29 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Making sure you get your daily vegetables is integral to staying full on a tight budget and keeping nutrient levels high (Sonny Abesamis/Flickr).
Making sure you get your daily vegetables is integral to staying full on a tight budget and keeping nutrient levels high (Sonny Abesamis/Flickr).
When it feels like your life is suddenly overrun by chaotic new experiences, it can be difficult to take a step back and focus on your own personal health. For many, disturbances in a familiar routine can actually lead to an increase in unhealthy behavior. 

As a college freshman, I am currently managing an enormous transition and dodging stimuli from a large variety of sources. However, in addition to massive transitions, such as moving from the East Coast to the West and from living at home to living in a dorm, I am also coping with the shift from being a serious athlete to an individual with no athletic commitments whatsoever. 

During high school I spent approximately fifteen to seventeen hours a week at crew practice. Additionally, I was required to weigh less than 130 pounds during the spring “lightweight season,” which required immense discipline and drive. As rowing is a mentally and physically taxing sport, it was an insane culture shock when my senior season ended and I suddenly had to learn how to stay healthy independently. 

While change has the potential to be exciting and liberating, attempting to balance a healthy lifestyle and retain some semblance of sanity while adjusting to a new environment can be overwhelming. Despite the fact that I have been abruptly transplanted from my established routine to an entirely different lifestyle, I think I’m adjusting reasonably well.  So, over the next few weeks, I am going to offer my best, unsolicited advice for those of you who are currently attempting to establish healthy habits for the next four years (and many more to come).  

1. Don’t count calories

As a lightweight rower, I meticulously recorded the calories that I burned and consumed each day. This tedious process led to unhealthy obsessive behavior, which completely negated any nutritional benefits of the practice.

It’s ok to monitor general caloric intake, but focusing instead on the nutritional value of the food that you consume is healthier for the mind and body in the long run. Instead of grabbing a cupcake from the dining hall, opt for a handful of nuts. Sugary drinks such as soda or juice can be tempting, but a hot or cold cup of green tea helps flush out toxins and tastes delicious simultaneously.  

2. Take advantage of your college budget

Fresh berries are very high in antioxidants, and great for afternoon snacks (Rhett Maxwell/Flickr).
Fresh berries are very high in antioxidants, and great for afternoon snacks (Rhett Maxwell/Flickr).

Walking through the halls or in the quad, you will doubtlessly hear students complaining and stressing about their extremely limited budgets. This is understandable, as college is exceptionally expensive. I myself do not currently have much disposable income, but I have been making this disadvantage work for me.

If I am tempted to buy a candy bar or a bag of chips on my way back from class, I remind myself that I would rather spend money on more important things, such as toiletries and books, or even adventures in the city with my friends.

Capitalizing on a seemingly negative situation has led me to snack much less frequently and increased my focus on eating three solid meals per day.   

3. Know your healthy options, and request more

The root of many peoples’ unhealthy eating habits is simply a lack of knowledge about what foods are and are not nutritionally dense.

For breakfast, consider substituting sugary cereals with basics such as corn flakes, Cheerios, and multigrain options. For lunch, skip the pizza bar and go for a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread.

Most college dining halls have salad bars, but while salad is an excellent healthy meal, you cannot subsist on salad alone. Try searching for nutritious staples such as low fat yogurt, seasonal fruits, quinoa, beans, brown rice, chicken breast, and tofu. If you are not satisfied
with the options presented to you, politely discuss the matter with the chef, who, more often than not, will attempt to assist you. 

Stay tuned for next week, when I discuss great ways to keep in shape, without joining a sports team. 

READ ALSO: Stay Healthy and Happy in College: Fitness

Reach Staff Reporter Eliza Moley here or follow her on Twitter here



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