College comes with many freedoms. For the first time, there are no parents; there is no structure other than the structure we attempt to create for ourselves; there is no curfew, no one doing our laundry; there is no one badgering us to do our schoolwork and get involved. Furthermore, there is no one cooking us dinner at the end of the day, no one buying our groceries for us, and no one to scold us eat for eating McDonald’s at 2 o’clock in the morning. Now there are more parties than ever, football games every weekend with food and drinks galore, a whole new array of fast food options at our beck and call, and roommates and friends who are all just as hungry as we are.
With so much going against us, what can college students do to eat better and feel better?
1. Eat breakfast
We hear this over and over, but that is because eating breakfast is as important as everyone says it is. Your body has gone overnight without eating, and eating breakfast within the first two hours after you wake up can actually make a difference in how your body metabolizes glucose for that entire day.1 Skipping breakfast will cause many people to overeat at their next meal, and can cause highs and lows in your blood sugar which should be avoided.1
2. Prepare one meal a day
Whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, try to avoid eating out or at the dining hall for every single meal. For example, making a whole wheat turkey sandwich for lunch with a piece of fruit can be better than going out for lunch and eating the large portion sizes and fries and soft drinks and chips that are often served at dining areas.
3. Stock your fridge
When the fridge is stocked, you are more likely to eat what is in your fridge than the snacks at your sorority house or in the vending machine. You are also less likely to want to order food as a late night snack because you probably will have something to satisfy you at home. However, make sure you are stocking your fridge with healthy snacks. If you can afford to, try to keep one type of fruit in stock at home and try to keep some sort of healthy snack at home like carrots and hummus, nuts, yogurt, or peanut butter.
4. Work out
The Rec Center offers so many great group exercise classes that provide an awesome workout. You can bring friends and hold each other accountable. They have numerous opportunities including cycling classes, yoga, kickboxing, total body workouts, and more concentrated workouts such as “Hard Core,” which focuses mainly on abs. Go to this link and check out the class options and schedule. http://urec.sa.ua.edu/Documents/2015SRCFallGXSchedule-W.pdf.
5. Close the kitchen
Late night orders between 10:00pm and 2:00am were found to be 100% more common for college students than other populations.2 At least on weekdays, try and give yourself a time of night to stop eating. The problem with late night eating is that we usually are not eating a hummus and avocado sandwich on whole wheat bread or a banana with almond butter; we’re more likely eating Sonic popcorn chicken and a chocolate milkshake. The problem is that we are usually going over our caloric budget and for the day. If you can keep it within your appropriate calorie range, it does not pose as big of a threat for weight gain, although it is clearly not healthy to do every night.3
So, it’s not easy eating as a college student, but there are things we can do to help ourselves out that our bodies will thank us for later. Try and incorporate one of these tips into your week and see what happens!
By: Paige Illiano
Why eating the right breakfast is so important. (2015, August 26). Retrieved from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/10/why-eating-the-right-breakfast-is-so-important/index.htm
Calzones at 2am and study sessions fueled by energy drinks: Research into college students’ eating habits explains the Freshman 15. (2014, August 29). Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2737776/Calzones-2am-study-sessions-fueled-energy-drinks-Research-college-students-eating-habits-explains-Freshman-15.html
Van Allen, J. (2015, August 24). Why eating late at night may be particularly bad for you and your diet. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-eating-late-at-night-may-be-particularly-bad-for-you-and-your-diet/2015/08/24/ad8b85ac-2583-11e5-b77f-eb13a215f593_story.html