Before I started college last year, I thought that the Freshman 15, or gaining 15 pounds during the first year of college, was most likely due to lack of time for consistent exercising. However, after looking at the lack of healthy options in the dining halls, I quickly learned that poor meal/snack options is quite often the cause of so many college students’ weight gain. You probably have heard the quote “eat good, look good, feel good”. While it is sometimes hard to squeeze in time to exercise in order to stay fit, eating healthy is an easy option, as it requires minimal excess time because one has to eat anyway so why not choose the healthier option. Here are some helpful tips to eat healthy throughout college and after in the unknown wasteland full of debt, not only how to dodge around the Freshman 15.
Designate an hour or so each week to prepare daily meals. While preparing 5 meals at once may seem scary, it is actually a large time saver. Put individual servings of meals, such as colorful salads or fully cooked chicken and rice, in Tupperware containers and place them in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy it. That way, in the morning, just place the container and ice pack in an insulated lunch bag while walking out the door and you are ready to go. It barely takes any extra time to prepare extra servings, while also saving effort on dish washing by only having to wash cooking dishes once instead after making each individual serving. When you can’t always rely on the dining hall, this ensures a healthy meal with an energy boost to get you through your afternoon classes.
Keep the essentials.
For the busy weeks with no spare time to meal prep, make sure to keep healthy essentials on hand. Why eat EasyMac when you can prepare a simple, healthy meal that takes only a couple extra minutes to prepare. Frozen chicken, butter, whole-grain pasta, peanut butter, jelly, and simple seasonings to elevate simple meals are necessary pantry (and fridge) items.
Buy in bulk.
Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy does not have to break the bank. One easy way to get more out of your dollar when grocery shopping is to buy in large quantities that can be easily frozen. While it may appear in the short run that buying the cheapest quantity of food is saving money, buying in larger quantities will allow you to get more meals for only a slightly higher price than the cost of food for one serving. Don’t be afraid of freezing food for later, as one vegetable commercial stated, “the freezer is nature’s pause button”.
Invest in a collection of food storage containers.
Having a variety of plastic storage containers is perfect for weekly meal prep to keep the food as good as new without getting squashed from being in the fridge for a couple days. The storage containers, along with Ziploc bags, are perfect for storing food in the freezer without freezer burn. Before sticking food in the freezer, separate the items in meal sized portions by using multiple containers. This allows for easy cooking in the future, without having to refreeze and rethaw food at a later date if accidentally taking more food out of the freezer than necessary.
Snack healthy and smart.
Not only does the candy you’re eating in the middle of the night while studying have loads of sugars, it also may not be providing you with a large feeling of fullness or enough energy. Therefore, the sugary snack may result in you eating more in order to obtain the same amount of fullness as a healthy option. Instead of salty chips, try whole-grain crackers. A handful of nuts can “pack your diet with filling protein fiber, unsaturated fats, and important vitamins and minerals” (everydayhealth.com). Vegetables or fruits such as carrots, celery, and strawberries are also quick, healthy options.