staying healthy in college

Everyone in college knows the struggle of eating healthy, finding time to work out, and staying healthy. After being in college for a couple months, I have started to figure out what works best for me in terms of keeping healthy and avoiding the freshman fifteen. While it's important to not obsess over what you eat (you're young of course!) it's also important to start developing healthy habits and what works best for you. I know everyone wants to avoid the freshman fifteen that seems to spring up during the first and even second semester, and it's honestly a bit difficult once you arrive at college to keep off a couple pounds. But after acclimatizing to the dining hall and eating on my "own", I have found that gaining a couple pounds in the first few months, and then taking it off again once you get into your healthy routine, is key. Here are my recommendations for staying healthy in college! 

// Buy and keep healthy snacks in your dorm //
I know we all love to buy chocolate, chips, and junk food, but if you keep those in your dorm you are destined to snack on those mindlessly and take in a lot of calories that way. I have found that only buying healthy foods (with the exception of an occasional chocolate bar or ice cream) has kept me from gaining the freshman 15. Buy things such as cheese sticks, granola bars, pretzels, and frozen fruit. If you have an unlimited meal plan (or whenever you are in the dining hall for that matter) pick up bananas, apples, and other small snacks that you could avoid buying and get "for free" in the dining hall. Here is a mini grocery list I have started to stick by this year: 

// Avoid overbuying //
At the beginning of the year I started to go crazy with buying food. I got too much. Only buy things you will need and don't buy a lot of perishable goods. I started out going to the grocery store once a week, but I realized I was wasting my money and stockpiling on too much food.

// Track your calories //
Some people think I'm obsessive if I do this, but I like to track my calories. For me it's not so much about losing weight but rather keeping a healthy weight and keeping track of my macronutrients. I use My Fitness Pal. I love being able to see the distribution of my foods, and it also reminds me not to have 10 snacks a day (a bit of an exaggeration, but it's easy to over-snack). It's also great to start healthy habits as you are beginning your journey into adulthood, so tracking your calories can teach you portion control and balance.

// Go for lighter options in the dining hall //
Even though your dining hall probably has a lot of delicious food everyday (such as pizza, pasta, and fried chicken), try to limit yourself to those. I go into the dining hall with a mindset of eating healthy (for the most part). I lean towards chicken, veggies as my sides, and salads. If you want pasta, get a small serving and then add some protein and veggies to it. If you want pizza, just get one slice and then supplement it with a salad. I have found that staying healthy is all about balance. My typical day at the DH consists of: salad, soup, sandwich, or chicken for lunch (but recently I have been enjoying getting cottage cheese and fruit) and chicken with veggies or a lean entre for dinner. And if you want to, treat yourself every so often. I enjoyed a small piece of fried chicken the other day but also had healthy sides with it. It's all about balance my friends!!

// Schedule workouts in your day //
I have to admit that I've been slacking in the workout department recently, mainly because it's difficult to find time to workout. But everyone can find at least 30-1 hour of their day for a little exercise. I try to go swim at least once a week with the swim club, but I will also fit in about 3 other workouts each week. I like to go in the evening, so either right before dinner or around 8:30. Writing your workout time on your schedule makes you stick to it. Working out is also such a stress reliever and is crucial to maintaining a good well-being in your college life.

// Don't overdo it on desserts //
My dining hall has the BEST chocolate chip cookies. At the beginning of the year I went a little crazy- I would have several cookies at each meal. Now I've forced myself to one cookie a day. If you are having trouble avoiding the desserts at your dining hall, simply sit far away from it and force the desserts out of your mind. Easier said than done right? Ask your friends to encourage you not to go to the dessert section multiple times a day, and if you do treat yourself, don't beat yourself up on it. One dessert a day is completely ok!

// portion control //

Portion control is the biggest tip I can give. Everyone loves to load up on the delicious sweet potato fries, scrumptious fried chicken, and delectable chocolate chip cookies at my school, but eat everything (even if it's healthy!) in moderation. I like to keep my meal to one plate and eat only what I'm hungry for. A good rule of thumb is to eat half of what's on your plate slowly, and then if you are still hungry after, finish your plate. Also keep in my serving sizes of foods: grilled chicken is about the size of your palm, pasta should be about the size of your knuckles when you clench your fist, and fruits should be the size of your fist. Also keep your fruits and veggies as the majority of your plate, with protein and grains slightly smaller. I'm obviously not a doctor, so don't drastically change the way you eat because of my tips. These are just things to keep in mind, not the only healthy way to do it. Many people need much larger portions (such as when I swam back in high school). Just keep your portions in mind. 

// avoid the restaurants on campus //

I'm sure if you're college is in the south, you have a Chick-fil-a on campus. While many schools will include these on-campus dining options (I have Moe's and Chick-fil-a!), you can easily over eat if you eat at these places on the daily. Limit yourself to these places to only eat a meal there once or twice a week. 

What are your tips for eating healthy in college? I've found it's not difficult- as long as you space your desserts and junk food out and keep healthy options in mind. I hope my fellow college students are staying healthy this semester and enjoying their year! 

As always,


  1. I'd love to try sweet potato chips. They're a great alternative to regular chips. Hummus is such a great snack. I really like having edamame to snack on.