Personal Health

College Health: Eating & Fitness

Eating healthy at college isn’t as hard as it may seem. Most dining halls provide plenty healthy food options and many colleges have lots of fitness activities. This guide will help you to learn easy ways to make nutritious choices and include fitness into your schedule.

Dining Hall Dilemmas

What if I can’t find any foods I like?

If you are having trouble finding foods you enjoy:

  • Be creative. If you don’t like the hot food offered, combine foods from different areas of the dining hall. For example, add a grilled chicken breast to a salad, or take veggies from the salad bar and add them to a sandwich or a wrap.
  • Try all of the dining halls to figure out which ones you like best. Many colleges have multiple dining halls that may serve different foods and meals. Some colleges post their menus online so you can see which dining hall will be serving what food every day.

What if I have class during meals?

Food is the fuel your brain needs to help you think, so make time to eat. If you skip a meal, you may have trouble concentrating, get a headache, or feel like you didn’t get very much out of your class. Even if you can’t sit down for a full meal, pack a healthy, portable snack such as:

  • Whole fruit (such as an apple, banana, or orange)
  • Trail mix
  • Granola or energy bar
  • String cheese
  • Nuts
  • ½ Sandwich

Sometimes dining halls will offer sandwich ingredients at breakfast or boxed lunches if you are unable to make it to a dining hall during lunch.

What if I’m a vegetarian?

Most colleges offer vegetarian entrees at all meals such as veggie burgers, tofu stir fries, and pasta dishes. Create your own vegetarian meal at the salad or sandwich bar by adding protein-rich ingredients such as:

  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Hummus
  • Beans
  • Peanut butter

How can I maintain good nutrition?

Try to eat a variety of foods and don’t skip meals. To get the most out of your meals, eat a balance of lean protein, high fiber carbs, and healthy fats such as oils, nuts, and fish. The table below provides suggestions of foods to choose at meal times.

Using campus services can also help you maintain good nutrition. If you have any food allergies, food intolerances, or food preferences, talk to your campus food services director to learn about your options. It may be helpful to meet with your college nutritionist if you experience weight or appetite changes.

Dorm Room Remedies

I have a meal plan, but always get hungry between meals and at night when I’m studying. What should I do?

Keep your room stocked with healthy snacks you can grab when you’re hungry, such as:

  • Brown rice cakes
  • Canned fruit in natural juices
  • Crackers (whole grain)
  • Energy (or protein) bars
  • Fresh fruit
  • Granola bars
  • High fiber cereal
  • Nut butters (peanut butter)
  • Nuts (unsalted)
  • Oatmeal (packets)
  • Pita bread (whole wheat)
  • Popcorn (try the single-serving bag)
  • Pudding
  • Soup
  • Trail Mix
  • Tuna fish

If you have a fridge, try:

  • Baby carrots, broccoli florets, grape tomatoes, celery
  • Hummus
  • String cheese
  • Yogurt and smoothies
  • Water, flavored seltzer waters, and low-fat milk

Try to have protein with each of your snacks, for example, a brown rice cake with peanut butter or fruit and string cheese.

My friends order late night pizza, calzones, and wings. What should I do?

Healthy eating is about moderation. If you eat healthy, regular meals throughout the day, you may still be a little hungry at night, so it’s okay to eat these types of foods every once in a while. Try suggesting healthier snacks like the ones listed above next time you and your friends need late night fuel.

Top 5 Healthy Eating Tips

Top 5 Ways to Include Fitness in College Life

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