This semester, I decided to go vegetarian. Two of my new roommates were vegetarian and one is slowly transitioning to vegan, so I decided it'd be a good opportunity to try something new! With that and not drinking milk (which is more of a vegan thing, no by-products), this new diet has benefitted me so much. I have more energy when I wake up in the morning, and I physically feel better. I've also been able to try new foods I haven't even thought of before, like meatless meat (which isn't actually bad for you, and it tastes good too!) and a lot of fruits like dragonfruit (it looks cool too). You're probably thinking, "You're in college, how do you afford all this? It must be expensive." Well, it doesn't have to be expensive. "Isn't it hard?" Nothing that is hard is never easy to accomplish, my friend.
1. Get rid of it, but don't deprive yourself.
So the one thing I did when I decided to change my eating habits was to look in the fridge. What do I have? I had milk and half and half. I had cheese. I had bologna (it's been hard being separated). But I didn't throw it out. I ate. If you have perfectly good, edible, unexpired food in the fridge, just eat it (but not all at once). Have one glass of milk a day for the next week. Make bologna and cheese sandwiches or roll ups for that week too. Just get rid of it. Remember, these things aren't necessarily bad for you. It's just an alternative to the other alternative you're about to take. Think of it as one last hoorah, and don't try and make yourself prisoner! That's just unhealthy in itself.
2. Go food shopping.
You can really do this anywhere. But here's the catch: you're going to spend some money. But the way to make it stretch is to find out where you can get the most bang for your buck. I used to shop at ShopRite and get the typical frozen vegetables and fruit, Halos (clementines), and other things here and there. But Whole Foods. Let me tell you about Whole Foods. Halos from Shoprite cost around seven dollars per bag. Whole Foods is two for ten dollars. That is a lot of Halos for sure, but you'll be eating a whole lot of them (I eat two or three a day, sometimes four). Or if you don't want that many, bring a friend with you who does like Halos and split the price! And mangoes, a personal favorite, sometimes go for four for five dollars. Shoprite usually has two for four dollars, but one dollar more for three more mangoes? You can't beat that.
3. Go for the cheap brands!
Once in a while, I shop at ShopRite because there is just a higher ratio of them in my area compared to Whole Foods. But when I do, I don't splurge on name brands. Why? Because the less I spend at ShopRite, the more mangoes I can buy! Just kidding. But really, eating healthy doesn't require you to empty your wallet.
4. Hit up the dining hall!
I do realize most college students are on meal plans. I am too! But most dining halls, probably all, have some type of fruit. One meal a week or more, go to the dining hall and splurge on all the fruit and salad you want! I mean, you are paying for it, so utilize it!
5. Better alternatives!
There are really healthy alternatives for most foods. Here are some good ones!
- Instead of milk, drink Almond Milk (Fun fact: it's not really milk).
- Instead of cereal, have oatmeal! (Or Kashi cereal!).
- Instead of juice (unless you make it yourself), water. Buy a Brita pitcher. It's magical.