You’re heading off for your first semester of college, or you’re heading back after a holiday break, you’ve been feeding your face full of mom’s home cooked meals and are afraid of getting that “Freshman 15” while you’re away at college. Some students think there are limited options to choose from while dining at school. The food court usually consists of Papa Johns, Chick Fil-A, Tacos, some sort of Chinese, an Ice Cream Shop, and Starbucks.
While many of those options still offer a healthy version of their menu, their Restaurant name tempts you to get your usual meal combo. Staying on track with your nutrition may seem intimidating, but we are here to help you fight those temptations and make better choices to aim toward your goals!
Student Weight Gain Problems
#1: I have a school meal plan, I have to eat at the restaurants located on campus
No problem! Although Taco Bell doesn’t sound healthy and nutritious like we would love it to be, opting for a Chicken Taco Salad with dressing on the side is your best away to get around consuming tons of greasy fats and save you from a stomach ache later. Also, use salsa as a topping – salsa has lots of nutritional value, and will save you over 100 calories if you stay away from the house dressings. There are many ways to “skinny-fy” the menu if you strip away the added sauces and carbs, plus don’t be afraid to ask to see the nutrition facts or check MyFitnessPal to see the calorie counts.
#2: But I’m a vegetarian, how will I get enough protein to help me lose weight?
Again, no problem! Although most entrees come with meat, you can always ask to have it substituted for an extra side of beans, quinoa, legumes, or another source of protein that they offer. Most campuses have a “grocery” store of some sort that offers things like almonds, hard boiled eggs and string cheese – carry a small lunch bag with an ice pack to class and keep these on hand while on the go for extra protein.
Ever tried a bowl of brown rice, black beans, and Mexicorn topped with Salsa? You can still be on a budget but have full flavor! Myprotein also offers many protein options at less than $0.70 per serving – perfect for sticking to a college budget.
#3: I have class all day and end up skipping lunch, leaving me starving for supper
Skipping meals is hard on your metabolism. Eating every 3-4 hours is vital for fat-burning capability. As mentioned before, keep a small lunch bag with an ice pack inside for quick-access to protein-packed snacks to keep you full and away from vending machines! Hard boiled eggs, almonds, energy bites, string cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, peanut butter and an apple are all great choices for you to munch on while sticking to your studies.
We understand that sometimes life gets in the way and we all make mistakes and slip-ups. Focus on adding whole nutritious foods instead of restricting the “bad” ones. What’s important is that you stick to your nutrition plan 80-90% of the time – no one is perfect, and eating balanced meals a majority of the time will allow you to stray away every now and then.
Top Tips to Remember
Avoid: fried foods, refined grains(white starchy foods), sweet drinks, sweets/treats
Instead go for: baked/grilled meats, all vegetables, high protein, low fat, water & fruit
Stock your dorm with healthy snacks that will keep you from leaving the room to hit the dining hall: rice cakes, peanut butter, trail mix, fiber one bar, bran cereal, energy bars, 100 cal pack kettle corn, there are many options for dry healthy snacks. Even more if you have a refrigerator – stock up with all fresh fruits and veggies at your side.
So I have to do this every day?
My friends are going to think I’m such a drag..
Being on top of your game nutritionally allows for you to have an off-track meal with friends every once in a while. Don’t go overboard by any means, but allow yourself to enjoy foods that you love (within moderation) and use your knowledge to make healthier choices.
You can eat that cheesy, greasy cheeseburger, but try to only eat half, and have a water instead of a Mountain Dew. Portion control is a major factor to staying healthy, whether you’re making the healthiest meal choices or not!
Most Importantly: Stay Hydrated!
This point can’t be argued enough. Did you know that drinking cold water actually burns calories?! Our bodies must regulate the temperature of the water to 98.6F before it can be utilized. This takes energy and burns calories to provide heat to the fluid! The goal is to aim for drinking 50% of your body weight in fluid ounces. If you weight 100lbs, drink 50 ounces, weigh 200lbs, drink 100oz, and so on.
Although ideal, it isn’t always possible for everyone, but as long as you’re maintaining the goal of 8/8oz glasses a day, you are still flushing out toxins and creating a healthier version of you. Imagine hydration as the world’s most effective and least expensive natural weight loss supplement!