Well hey, y’all. Ya hungry?
Welcome back to “Turning the Freshman 15 into the Freshman Clean!” (Lost? Click here.)
You’re about to read an awesome guest post by Certified Health Coach, Founder of Healthy Hits the Spot and Co-Founder of Finally Free, Paige Schmidt. Paige teaches women, through her Health Coaching services, daily blog posts, and emails, how to eat intuitively so they can feel great in their bodies without counting calories, diets or deprivation.
When I asked Paige to write a guest post about healthy eating in college, she agreed with enthusiasm, then firmly added, “Just to be clear, I teach my clients/readers to listen to their bodies, and am not up for anything remotely restrictive.”
HELL YEAH, GIRL. TELL EMMMMM
College is such an exciting time, full of new opportunities, lifechanging moments, and memories that will last a lifetime. For many, college is a time where you truly find yourself, discover what you’re meant to do, and find your friends who will be in your wedding. However, attached to that college stigma is the much feared “freshman 15”. Although this is completely avoidable, it is true that this can easily happen if you do not approach food offered in school with balanced approach.
The food offered in the cafeteria if you are on a meal plan is not always full of healthy options. The staples usually include a traditional cafeteria hot line with processed foods, a grill for burgers and hot dogs, fast food, and finally, a salad bar. Of course, it’s easy to go for the unhealthy foods. It’s quick, usually fits easily into your allotted meal plan, and let’s be honest, no one is making you eat your vegetables for once.
So what are most college students not getting enough of in terms of food or food groups? Vegetables, fresh fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats. Most of the vegetables in the food served is made with tons of butter or mixed in with a cheese casserole. Because many of the meals offered on college campuses are prepared in bulk, they are preserved through the use of chemicals.
What are most college students not getting enough of in terms of food or food groups? Vegetables, fresh fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Now, is it bad to eat these foods? No! A huge concept that I coach my girls about is Intuitive Eating. This is the ultimate freedom from any dieting. We should, and can, be able to eating anything we want, while listening to our body to tell us exactly what it wants. This means sometimes, your body is going to crave a warm, cheesy slice of pizza. And that’s okay! Go to the best pizza place you know, order exactly what you are craving, sit down with your pizza, and enjoy it slowly, truly savoring all the flavors.
Sometimes your body is going to crave a warm, cheesy slice of pizza. And that’s okay! However, our bodies are incredibly smart.
However, our bodies are incredibly smart. If we are truly listening to what it wants, you will find that you often crave fresh, whole foods with a lot of nutritional benefits. This is what our body needs for the majority of the time to feel its best!
So how can you incorporate nutritional foods into your diet while relying on the university’s foods? It can be done! I realize that dorm life is less than optimal for cooking gourmet meals, but with just a few staples that you keep around, you can easily eat well. Here are some ideas for you!
Staple foods to keep stocked in your room:
*Note: These are all inexpensive foods that you can find at any grocery store*
- Raw almonds, cashews, or walnuts
- Healthy snack bars such as: Larabars and KIND bars
- Cherry tomatoes (no need to refrigerate these)
- Ground flaxseeds
- Boxed unsweetened almond milk
- Whole wheat bread
- Natural, no sugar added almond or peanut butter
- Trail mix add ins: raisins, unsweetened coconut shavings, dark chocolate, etc.
If you have a mini fridge, you could include:
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Laughing Cow Cheese
- Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
Now, I realize dinner is usually something that you want to enjoy with friends. So, could you prepare your own breakfast or lunch? Or pack snacks with you to take to class to prevent grabbing that tempting donut the club booth is handing out? (Side note: there is nothing wrong with enjoying that donut, as long as you check in with your body to see if this is exactly what it is craving! See the beauty of Intuitive Eating? No restrictions!) This will help add in healthy foods!
Many times, especially for lunch, I would pack my food with a plethora of snacks rather than a single meal because I was always on the go. This means lots of smaller foods rather than a huge helping of one food. For example, a lunch would be toast with avocado, carrots with hummus, an apple, a small helping of trail mix, and a Larabar. I wouldn’t necessarily eat all of this all the time, but I liked having options and never went hungry when I had hours of back to back classes.
From the grocery list above, you could make:
- Overnight Oats (no microwave required)
- Yogurt parfait
- Toast with peanut butter and banana
- Healthy trail mix
- Oatmeal with nuts and fruit (if you have a microwave in your room)
- Pack healthy bars in your purse
- Cherry tomatoes and carrots dipped in hummus
- Cheese wedges on cucumbers
- A banana on the way to class
- Toast with avocado
Also, do not feel embarrassed or hesitant to customize your food. For example, if you want an egg omelet for breakfast, you can usually tell the person making them exactly what you want. A healthy omelet could include: eggs, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and a little bit of cheese. I have found that if you simply ask for customization at most campuses, they will be happy to accommodate.
Finally, try to focus on this simple plate method for most meals: aim to fill half your plate with vegetables, a fourth of your plate with lean protein (such as grilled chicken, turkey, beans or lentils, tofu, etc), and a fourth of your plate with either a small serving of something not as nutritionally dense, or with a fruit or healthy fat. For breakfast, try including protein to keep you alert during class (eggs, Greek yogurt, nut butters, etc), fresh fruit, and a grain (such as oatmeal).
Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables, a fourth of your plate with lean protein (such as grilled chicken, turkey, beans or lentils, tofu, etc), and a fourth of your plate with either a small serving of something not as nutritionally dense, or with a fruit or healthy fat.
With just some simple modifications, you really can have your cake and be healthy too! College is a time of figuring out things on your own for the first time, and eating healthy is just one of the many things you will learn. Just remember to enjoy your time during these years, and listen to your body. She will tell you exactly what it wants.