For many freshmen, moving away from home is a combination of whirled emotions ranging from sheer excitement to anxiety, stress and even homesickness. Change plays a big part in weight gain, and it is common for first time college students to pack on quite a few pounds without noticing. Overeating can come from the liberation of home and new friends in ways of too much chips, candy, soda, fried foods and more often than not, beer.
College is an adjustment, yet you can be aware of what you eat to avoid having to live in sweats all the time. Healthy eating comes from paying attention to what you are putting in your body. Here are some areas to keep your focus while adjusting to college life.
Keep the Good Stuff in Your Room
You probably already know your food weaknesses, so try not to keep that kind of food in your room for a quick grab. Instead of that huge bag of chips, stock up on snacks high in protein and carbohydrates for energy. Apples and peanut butter, trail mix, veggies and hummus and whole-grain cereal are just a few ideas. Consider healthy options in drinks and try to stay away from the overzealous energy drinks being marketed.
Eat a Good Breakfast
Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. It provides energy and wakes up your metabolism. You are less likely to make poor food choices throughout the day if you fill up on a nutritious breakfast. Breakfast options for students’ on-the-go should include proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamin C. Hummus, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, yogurt, whole grain cereals and breads are just a few solid ideas.
Navigating the Cafeteria
Most college cafeterias offer a plethora of different foods. This is where you will be challenged the most in picking the right foods. Portion control is another limiting factor in weight management. Cafeterias are notorious for over-sized portions packing a high-calorie punch. They also provide nutritious choices like salad bars and healthier cooking options. Steer clear of fried foods and food swimming in sauces. Select foods that are baked, steamed, roasted or grilled.
The cafeteria is an excellent place to practice portion control. Your plated doesn’t need to compete with Mt. Everest, unless it is a salad or fruit mountain you are building. Beware of calorie-laded dressings, bacon bits, and croutons, the nutritional value is almost zero.
A Better Way to Look At Food
Most people look at food with their senses like sight and smell. Here is a life hack you can use forever. When you are getting ready to eat, see your food as what it provides for your body instead. For example, spaghetti is carbohydrates, the red sauce is loaded with vitamin A. Fish is protein. Bananas have potassium and minerals. The more you do this, the better you will get at breaking down every single ingredient in a meal. Imagine how far you can go to find all the nutrients in a slice of pizza. This is a habit which will develop and serve you well your whole lifetime. Better food choices will evolve naturally.
Beware of Drinks
Alcohol will pack on the weight faster than a blink of the eye. You won’t even notice for awhile until one day while standing in front of your mirror and your belly looks a little plumper. Keep balanced. When drinking, alternate with a glass of water to flush the system. The added benefit is you will drink less. Eat before you drink, it will curb the late-night cravings plus absorb the alcohol to fend off the horrors of hangovers.
Energy drinks, soda, and all the others of hundreds of available beverages are not your friend. Even the healthiest premade drink you find contains preservatives and other questionable ingredients. Some students will inevitably make the poor choice of mass consuming energy drinks while cramming for tests. This is not worth the health risks now being reported.
Get your health on with smoothies. Fruit, veggies, herbs, yogurt and anything you can think of healthy-wise to throw in a blender and drink will maximize your vitality. Your body will thank you.
Move That Body
Trekking across campus does not count as your daily exercise regimen; especially if your nights include a 12 pack. If you want to stay at the top of your game in college, consider adding some kind of interesting exercise routine. Don’t think of it as weight loss or any kind of punishment for other poor habits. The life hack on this is look at physical activity only for improving brain clarity and function, moods, stress and keeping those endorphins in check. Think about how it detoxifies your skin, improves your over-all looks and actions.
Pick a physical activity according to your personality. If you are a serious loner, opt for activities your sheer independence relies on. If you have to be around people for motivation, then college is the place to jump in on fun activities like volleyball, Frisbee-golf and other creative endeavors. You won’t even know you are exercising. When you are engaged in physical activity, you are feeding your soul and not just the body. For instance, hiking will provide connection to nature. Redefine how you look at exercise.
College represents a new journey for students. Change is a big deal. You may not even notice the anxiety, homesickness or stress manifesting through your eating habits to cope. Boredom, stress, depression and anxiety can easily make you turn to food. Find out which area you are more likely to binge. For some people, they cannot eat at all when they are depressed but will overeat when they are stressed out. Knowing your triggers is the key to having healthy coping mechanisms in place. Recognize warning signs and seek help from support services offered on your campus. College counseling services were created because of students going through life changing transitions. You are not alone. Realize that most students are sharing the same experience you are.
This is the time to learn about you. This is the time to create a life you are proud of. Challenge your habits, and beliefs. College is your personal journey to self.