Whether you are hitting the gym after class or hitting the library to cram, healthy food will give you the brainpower to perform your best. Here at JMU, there are so many options to choose from. Even though the possibilities are endless, most of my dining freshman year went to candy, ice cream and coffee. Let’s face it. While there are so many healthy options, the unhealthy ones look a lot more appetizing. Having a meal plan is both a privilege and a burden… if you are anything like me, candy actually makes your day better. Therefore, it is important to not deprive yourself of the things that make you happy. Instead of eating your weight in candy, learning how to incorporate more fruit might be the trick for you. There are plenty of resources available to help you make the right decisions. Your plate should consist of fruits, veggies, grains and protein. Here are some ground rules for living a healthy lifestyle in college.
Water is your best friend
Staying hydrated is essential to feeling fuller throughout the day and making healthier choices. According to Authority Nutrition, you should be drinking about half of your weight in ounces of water every single day. This makes sense because we are made of 60% water. Remembering to drink water thought the day can be difficult. A good way to make sure you are getting your daily fix is keeping a bottle with you and refilling it. I try to drink a bottle of water between each meal. This helps me feel my best. Not drinking enough water can leave give you brain fog or exhaustion. This is the last thing a college student needs. With lack-of-sleep already a problem, be sure to keep a bottle in your backpack to refill.
If plain water is not exciting enough, try adding crystal light or frozen fruit. Slowly try to add less and less to get used to the taste of water. Additives should not be incorporated to every drink, but can definitely help you drink more!
Strengthen you relationship with veggies
Most of us don’t enjoy eating as many vegetables as we should, but that does not mean we should neglect them. Now that it is finally fall, we have to appreciate the seasonal veggies like pumpkin and squash. Veggies should make up about half of your plate. Or if you are going to e-hall (where you might have ten plates, keep an eye on the veggie options. I enjoy eating veggies much more than I did my first year. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of all the options at dining halls and see if you like them!
When you head to a dining hall, be sure to grab a plate of salad before grabbing an entree. This will help you feel fuller faster. If salad isn’t for you, try making it fun. Add a couple goldfish and choose the dressing you enjoy the most. Eating a salad with toppings that make more appealing is better than no salad! JMU provides as with many healthy options full of veggies.
Healthy fats are not the enemy
Contrary to popular belief, fats are good for you. They can speed up your metabolism and keep you full. Some healthy fats include avocado, nuts, olive and coconut oil and peanut butter. Adding nut butter to your morning oatmeal is a good way to fight off hunger during your morning classes. According to Food Network, healthy fats contain Omega-3 and can reduce illness and inflammation. Plus, most of these are so good! Personally, I love a slice of toast with peanut butter and a banana.
Prepare for Success
This is probably true for most aspects of life, but is still overlooked. Preparing for your schedule makes life easier, but sometimes you prioritize other obligations (which is okay, too). Instead of playing the guessing game when you have back-to-back classes, plan snacks to keep you satisfied and focused on your classes. Make large portions of the foods and pack them in a container to enjoy on campus. For example, you can pack healthy sandwiches, salads, soups or you can get creative with lettuce wraps or homemade quinoa bowls. Of course, these are just a couple options if you want to bring lunch to campus.
Packing snacks is an even easier way to fight off hunger during the day. Below is a list of some of my favorite snacks that are perfect for on-the-go!
- Homemade trail mix
- Fresh fruit:
- Dried fruit
- Roasted chickpea
- Raw veggies and hummus
- Fruit and nut butter
- Popcorn add some cinnamon sugar
- Yogurt and nuts
Everything in Moderation
We all get carried away when it comes to unhealthy food sometimes. Balance is key in staying healthy. Allow yourself to enjoy your favorite foods in smaller portions. If you know you want ice cream after your dinner, try sticking to a healthier dinner. If you love baking as much as I do, make healthy banana bread and throw some chocolate chips in! The moderation will satisfy your sweet tooth. Maintaining your healthy habits while enjoying your favorite foods will encourage you to keep making good decisions.
Part of staying healthy is accepting your mistakes. Therefore, there is no point in getting mad at yourself for slipping up. If you deprive yourself, you will eventually give up. Make the effort to applaud your accomplishments and treat yourself. You work hard and you deserve to treat yourself.
Lastly, know what works for you. Practicing healthy eating should make you feel your best. Try to use these tips these week and document how you feel after eating. Being mindful of how food affects your body will make it easier. Also, track how eating your favorite unhealthy foods make you feel. You might be surprised with your results.
Peace, love and DDP