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How to Eat Healthy In College

College is full of delicious temptations. The mascot for your university might as well be pizza, it’s got such a huge campus following. Eating healthy in college can be really tough. When you live in a dorm and have a meal plan you only get three cooked meals a day, so if you get hungry between classes or before bed, it’s hard to find healthy options. Similarly, you quickly learn that without a meal plan, food can get really expensive!

healthy eating in college

healthy eating in college

It’s so much easier to eat out or eat a handful of chips rather than finding healthy options. To help combat these temptations, I’ve compiled some tips for healthy eating in college!

Fruit is a godsend for college students everywhere! It’s relatively inexpensive, especially if you buy it in bulk, it can be frozen, and it’s delicious! My favorite class snacks include bananas and apples because they’re so quick to grab. Apples are also an appetite suppressant so eating one will keep you feeling full for a while and keep you from snacking on less healthy junk. Fruit can easily be kept in a dorm refrigerator, and it can be found at any supermarket. Even better, buy local and in season fruits for a better deal!

Here’s some ideas to get you started

  • Create a fruit salad
  • Include a side of fruit with your next entre: it’s filling and yummy.
  • Freeze peeled bananas for at least 24 hours and enjoy a frozen yogurt-esque snack! (Check out this link for more information on the wonders of frozen bananas)
  • Make a filling smoothie for breakfast (Check out these ideas here!)
  • Add fruit to your salad to make it more enjoyable
  • Dip slices of apples in ranch, yogurt, or peanut butter for a great snack
  • Create fruit popsicles!
  • Mix some fruit with greek yogurt
  • Grab some extra bananas, apples, oranges, or whatever is offered in your dinning hall and take them to-go for later!

Not sweet enough? Try dipping cut strawberries into a little bit of sugar! Or into a low-fat chocolate sauce or Nutella. These snacks are enough to quell my sweet tooth and keep me from feeling too guilty.

Snacks are my biggest weakness in college. When under stress, your body searches for easy cures like sugar which lowers stress hormones. I know that sleeve of Oreos sounds so perfect, but the guilt and yucky-feeling after won’t be worth it, I promise! Instead, try to find snacks that you look forward to. If you enjoy eating them, you’re more likely to actually eat them. Also, look for quick snacks. I know when I’m stressed I want to grab something easy, rather than have to actually cook or prep something. Here’s some ideas to get you started!

  • Cheese and crackers – try to find crackers with low sodium. Gluten free and baked options are usually the healthiest, but I wouldn’t stress too much. I like to buy a block of my favorite cheese and cut it into thin slices and munch away. There’s so many cheeses, try for healthier low-fat or skim cheeses with a low calorie count.
  • Greek yogurt – Some of these can come with hefty amounts of sugar, so be sure to read the label. Greek yogurt is great because it’s super yummy and contains a good amount of protein, unlike regular yogurt. It’s not hard to make, if you’d prefer to make it yourself.
  • Granola bars – These are quick and easy to take to class. I usually leave one in my purse in case I get hungry when I’m out.
  • Cereal – I love eating cereal all day, I don’t care if it’s morning or midnight. Stay away from sugary cereals, and opt instead for plain cheerios or a granola based cereal. Substitute almond or skim milk rather than regular milk, and eat away! Add a little bit of sugar or fruit to get the sweet flavor you crave.
  • Popcorn – Popcorn is wonderful because you can get the stuffing-your-face sensation without the calories. It’s really easy to make your own microwave popcorn, or buy a microwave popper. The kernels can be purchased at most supermarkets. This method is much better than store bought because you can control the amount of added salt and butter. Tip: use olive oil instead of butter! If you must buy microwavable bags, buy a low-salt and low-butter healthy option.
  • Dark chocolate – This darker version of your favorite indulgence has many more added health benefits and often is enough to quell your sweet tooth.

Still need to eat your favorite junk snacks? Buy them in individual portioned bags. Check the snack aisle of your grocery store and you’ll find those prepackaged snack options usually used for lunches. These are great because you’re limited to the smaller serving size of the bag, rather than having to find the self control when eating a large bag of chips for example.

I know it’s so very tempting to reach for a Red Bull when cramming for that test you forgot you had tomorrow, but those things are packed with an alarming amount of weird stuff! A lot of caffeine products can become addictive, not to mention they are packed with sugar. Sometimes you just really need energy in college, so try these instead of that Monster drink.

  • V8 Energy Fusion – This is a much healthier alternative to Red Bull. One of these cans contains a full serving of fruits and vegetables, and packs the same amount of energy as an 8 ounce cup of coffee. The energy comes from green tea, so it’s more natural than other store bought products. Also, it’s only 50 calories and there’s a new sparkling and diet option. These are super yummy, and I take one to work almost every day.
  • Tea – So many teas contain energizing properties, and if you aren’t trying them, then you are missing out! I like to use a tea infuser to make my teas, and they are great for class. There’s a flavor for everyone, my favorite of the moment is pumpkin spice.
  • Coffee – In moderation, coffee is already a healthy beverage. Try not to drink more than one cup a day, and recognize if you are becoming dependent. It could be useful to wane off coffee for a few weeks if necessary. Tip: staying away from coffee for a few weeks will help it give you that buzz you crave when you start drinking it again! Avoid the urge to drink sugary coffees filed with creamer and other flavors (like my personal addiction to Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha). Drink your coffee black, if you can, or add skim or almond milk rather than cream and sugar.

I hope you keep these in mind the next time you feel like ordering pizza at midnight! It’s important to be healthy while you’re young, but remember you’re in college! You deserve to eat what you want and indulge every once in a while! Just keep it in moderation, and you’ll be fine. Happy eating!

Do you have any healthy eating college tips? Share them in the comments!

Disclaimer: All of the opinions expressed here were my own. I was not compensated for the inclusion of any products or companies in this post.

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  • I love detailed this is. So many great ideas. The snacks are my favorite. Thanks for sharing.

  • So important. And sometimes easier than you’d would think (or have time to think about)!

  • I have been coming up blank lately on snack ideas thank you for sharing and adding all the extra details.

  • Thanks for also including how to make the suggestions you made. Every morning I typically eat a bacon egg and cheese and a small smoothie. I bet now if I was making them myself I could do a larger smoother and maybe some yogurt and be filled as well.
    xoxo off campus college student xoxo

  • Nice ideas here. I would add to try and make coffee instead of buy sugary coffee. Or buy an Americano and only add milk instead of cream and sugar. Makes a big difference!

  • Some great suggestions! I should try some of these!

  • I loved this post! I had no idea how to grocery shop in college or meal plan and I think back on all of the food I wasted because I didn’t know what to do with it!! Fruit is a huge deal because it can go in your backpack.

  • Great ideas! I loved this post!

  • Really great list! Nuts and dried fruit are other good options too – although they can be spend for a college student! My sister is in college and asked me to do a post about healthy, cheap eats. Great ideas!

  • In college I bought a 2nd mini fridge for my dorm room, and I bought a toaster oven and a microwavable safe contraption so I could steam food! LOL! I had a mini kitchen under my bed! 😉

  • I wish I knew then what I know now when it comes down to food. My college diet was horrible!

  • Agreed that frozen bananas are amazing!

  • I love Tiesta Tea! It’s my go-to loose-leaf tea!

  • I love this post!! Great ideas and even better – great pictures. Really cute. Thank you for sharing this with us!

    http://www.diyjahn.com

  • These tips are great for anyone! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • I don’t think these tips are just for being in college. I work at home and these are some good tips to keep me healthy. I also love to eat some dried fruits. There is a girl here on the island that sells them. You can check them out here (www.itsyummy.ooo) And V8 is one of those drinks I really love..but i don’t know this one. I have to buy it!! Thanks for sharing these tips.

  • Good tips, but be sure to read ingredient lists. Anything you can’t pronounce you shouldn’t eat and high sugar content in foods is a “no-no”

  • This is SO important and I hope all parents of college students AND college students see this! While my daughter’s college has a nice cafe, and a cafeteria it gets difficult eating the same healthy selections over and over again. These are excellent tips and items of things to have stocked in their dorm rooms!

  • Mai T.

    My healthy eating college tips:
    1. DON’T GO SHOPPING HUNGRY! You’ll buy a lot more than you intended to because you’ll want to eat it right then and there!
    2. Nut butter is full of healthy fats — and there are so many different kinds (PB, almond, sunflowerseed butter, etc.).
    3. Dairy’s cheap, filling and chances are you’re not getting enough calcium. Not into milk, try dairy alternatives like nut milks, soy, coconut milk, etc.
    My So-Called Chaos sent me here.

  • Rosie

    These are all good suggestions – it is a good time to start learning how to eat healthy, although it isn’t as easy as when you already have a career, etc.

  • Tons of great options here! I love dark chocolate at the end of the night, it is the perfect treat to crave any sweet cravings and often a good source of healthy fats… Thanks for sharing ;o)

  • Great tips! I’m a college student now as well- 2 months into living away from home. Greek yogurt has been my go-to snack every chance I get haha.

  • Great suggestions! I wish when I went to college I would have been more focused on healthy eating! I had to pay the price afterwards…

  • Great advice for college student, but really, great advice for everyone. Bookmarking!

  • Fruit is such a godsend! If all I have in my backpack is an apple, I am forced to eat it. Which is probably for the best lol Great post 🙂

  • YES, pizza was totally my college mascot. One of the dining options on my campus even delivered to dorms, which made it even harder to avoid. Keeping plenty of good snacks (including a Costco-sized jar of Nutella, in my case) made all the difference!

  • Love this. Many think it is impossible to eat healthy in college. This post will be helpful to many.

  • Kristyn

    These are great I have been looking for some healthy snacks!

  • It’s hard to keep a healthy diet during Uni, but your ideas are really great. All of them can be applied after college too, busy with work and other commitments, the diet suffers sometimes.

  • It can be so difficult to eat healthy in college-these are great tips!

  • Great list! Meal plans were the best and worst part of college and grad school. I was so surprised how much better I felt when I started incorporating more of my own food. Will have to share with my brothers who are in school now.

  • Great tips! There’s a lot of delicious and healthy snacks that really dont feel like you’re just eating vegetables and bland food.

  • These are great ideas. I eat yogurt for breakfast every morning, the Greek light is really good & Holla until lunch time.

  • Eating healthy in college can be really difficult! There are so many fast food option right on campus, and with little to no free time can seem like a good idea. These are all really great tips. Another good idea is to buy dinners that are easy and fast to make so you’re not tempted to order food or eat out (this was my biggest problem in college).

  • whoah this blog is excellent i love studying your posts.

    Stay up the great work! You recognize, a lot of persons are searching around for
    this information, you could help them greatly.

  • jasminblogs

    As a college sophomore with a million things already on her plate, eating healthy can be a challenge at times. I was so excited to see that you talked about fruit in this post! A few months ago I made it my goal to have at least one banana (not sure why I picked bananas specifically, haha) with every single meal, and it definitely helped me feel fuller faster and for longer, not to mention the fact that I was working toward getting in my daily serving of fruit. Great post and if you ever want to collaborate, hit me up sometime! 🙂

    Hugs,

    Jasmin
    http://www.macaronsandmascaraonline.com

    • Samantha

      That’s a great goal! One banana with every meal?! Three bananas a day?! You deserve an award, haha! That’s a good idea!