Healthy food guide. It’s that time of year again, classes are back in session and the excitement of seeing your friends again (or meeting them for the first time) is starting to wear off.
Now your schedule is probably getting more hectic, and chances are, the Freshman (or Sophomore, or Junior, or Senior) Fifteen is looming over you.
With all of the vending machines, student stores, late night cravings, and less-than-ideal Dining Hall food, eating healthy and staying away from unnecessary weight can be really hard.
But good news, girl, I’ve gotchu! I’ve been where you are, and I know how difficult eating healthy can be when it seems like you’re being tempted with junk everywhere you turn, so I’ve put together the most amazing Hot Body Meal Plan that will take the struggle out of maintaining a diet that works for you. In the meantime, here are some helpful tips for maintaining healthy eating habits during those crazy collegiate years (and beyond):
Size Does Matter
It’s so easy to feel like if you’re not eating junk food, than you’re okay! Um, unfortunately, no. Whether you’re living in an apartment where you can cook your own food, or trying to navigate a meal plan in the Dining Hall, portion size is one of the most important aspects of healthy eating.
Our culture has a really bad habit of automatically filling our plate, and then eating so quickly that our brain can’t even register when we’ve had enough to eat.
So rather than filling a full sized plate with food, try grabbing a bowl or bread plate and serve yourself in “courses” (fancy, right?).
Start with what you know you should eat: vegetables, salad, etc. Once you’ve taken the time to eat that slowly, evaluate how hungry you still are and then move on to some type of meat, or protein – again, smaller portions! After that, treat yourself to a small dessert or cozy drink.
Spreading out your meal will help your brain catch up with your stomach and you’ll prevent yourself from overeating. Portion control allows you to indulge in occasional meals out with friends or treats without suffering the consequences. It might seem like a small thing, but girl, a little goes a long way!
Shop With Your Space In Mind
Keeping food in your dorm room’s mini fridge is so hard, and even if you live in a house or apartment, chances are you’re sharing kitchen space with other people. But eating out all the time is a good way to drain your bank account and fill out your waistline, so shopping ahead of time is crucial. When you go to the store, start by trying to get your staple foods frozen.
Frozen veggies and pre-cooked chicken might not be as ideal as the fresh versions, but it saves a ton of space (and money) and the nutritional value is still really good. For the things you can’t freeze, make sure to buy things that won’t spoil quickly, or buy them in small batches. Shopping for what you’re going to eat ahead of time is when you have the most control, so take advantage of it and set your future babe-self up for success!
I recommend stocking up on pantry staples that you can easily keep stored in your dorm room. Cans, jars, crackers, and bars are a God-send when you don’t have time to make it to the dining hall.
We’ve all pulled the highly caffeinated all nighters. Curled in a ball in your dorm, head in the books and coffee in hand. No one has room in their mini fridge for milk, but black coffee is so basic. Blue Diamond Almond milk is shelf-stable, so you can keep it stored in your pantry or cabinet until you need it. And when you can barely keep your eyes open, you’re gonna need it It add just enough deliciousness to your coffee and seriously saves your late-night study sesh! Plus it’s amazing for smoothies and other quick energy boosting snacks.
If you know anything me, you know I’m a HUGE advocate for drinking a lot of water… and I mean, a lot. Our body often mistakes thirst for hunger, and we end up eating too much and not drinking enough – yikes. Try to carry around a water bottle or canteen and drink water during classes.
See if you can drink at least 16 oz at every meal, and gulp down a few more throughout the rest of the day – more, if you’re exercising regularly. This will keep you feeling more full and will also help your focus, digestion, and overall health by keeping you hydrated!
With drinking enough water and controlling your portion sizes alone, you’re already well on your way to avoiding extra poundage, and maybe even losing weight. Buuut let’s get into some of the finer details.
Navigating The Dining Hall
If you don’t yet live in an apartment or have your own kitchen, eating in the Dining Hall can be really tricky, especially if you’re on a meal plan and you frequent those pre-prepared food stations.
When you find yourself surrounded by fried, processed, and sugary foods, try to look for dishes that you can hunt, gather, or harvest: lettuce, raw or cooked vegetables, beans, grilled or roasted meat, raw fruit, etc. That way you can build your own meals out of ingredients you’ve chosen yourself, rather than grabbing a pre-prepared meal from the hot food line. You’ll have so much more control over your portion sizes and what you’re eating.
Listen To Your Body
It can be really easy to sit in the dining hall, or other popular watering holes, and eat for hours while you sit with your friends, studying and chatting. Try to be intentional about listening to your body and knowing when you’re 80% full (our minds take longer to realize we’ve had enough to eat than our bodies do, so we end up eating more even though we’re already full – same idea as portion control!). Once you’ve had enough food, if you want to stick around and chat, then get a low-calorie drink like black coffee, tea, or water.
Stock Up On The Right Snacks
This is so important, because let’s be real, snacking is essential to a successful college career. Hunger can sneak up on you during that late night study session or when you don’t have time to grab food between classes. When you’re at the store or in the Dining Hall, make sure to grab a few things like raw nuts, fruit, and vegetables, and keep them in your bag or by your desk. That way, when those nasty hunger pangs hit you, the first thing you’ll grab is an apple rather than a candy bar from the vending machine.
You can also try and avoid sudden hunger by establishing a routine – eat a handful of almonds when you know you’re usually about to get hungry, and beat your body to it.
And let’s not forget the sweets! It’s also a good idea to keep some healthy treats on hand, like berries and dark chocolate (you can put these in the freezer too), so that you can #treatyourself during those long nights of studying.
One of my favorite go to snacks that is super filling is some chocolate chia pudding! Literally all you need is some almond milk – insert that Almond Breeze– chia and cocoa powder. Done and done!
Put some of these tips and tricks into your back pocket, and I promise that while your friends might be bloated from sodium, sugar, and too much soft serve, you’ll be tightening your belt another notch. Aaaand, of course, if you’re really serious about healthy eating, you can use the Hot Body Meal Plan to take the guesswork out of healthy eating.
One less thing for you to worry about? Yes please! This fabulous Meal Plan will give you something simple and delicious to follow and will ensure that even when your schedule might be out of control, your diet isn’t.