How to eat healthy as a college student

how to eat healthy as a college student

Written by Charaf Mrah

Salut! I'm a college student majoring in Software Engineering. I created this website to share whatever I'm learning with you.

August 4, 2020

For the first four months of my freshman year, 90% of the food I ate was junk food. From deliveries to restaurants to frying french fries at 2 am.

On top of that, I didn’t exercise (due to a knee injury). So you could imagine how much fat I gained in a short amount of time. 

However, 8 months ago I had to put a stop to this behavior. And here I am writing a post on how to eat healthy as a college student.

I started eating healthy for 3 months without exercising. Then started exercising as well as eating healthy for the next 5 months.

I think that the results are great as seen from my weight loss progress:

I’m now at my optimal weight, and I’m probably the fittest I’ve ever been in my life. Mainly because of the food that I ate. 

I will talk about exercising at home in another post. But in this one, I’ll focus more on how you can eat healthy as a college student.

MEAL PREP:

!THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE!

What is meal prepping?

As the name suggests, meal prep (preparation) is a process where you prepare your week’s meals for example during the weekend. Some people prepare for one day only for example.

How to meal prep as a college student?

I personally meal prep the lunch for a whole week. I usually cook 2 different dishes during the weekend and then keep them in containers inside the fridge. 

The quantity of food I cook is enough for me to eat for the whole week.

Not only is meal prepping is healthy, but it’s also excellent for time management. After cooking during the weekend, you just need to make dinner (I only eat light food for dinner such as fruits or yogurt).

The process of meal prepping used to be confusing to me when I first started, and I ended up wasting a lot of time. However, after a couple of times of practice, I became more efficient at it.

Here’s the process to meal prep efficiently if you’re a college student like me:

  1. Plan what you would like to eat for the week first (youtube is helpful for this step)
  2. Figure out the groceries and WRITE THEM DOWN (you’ll miss something if you don’t, trust me)
  3. If you don’t have a container to store your meals, get ones, they’re really worth it
  4. Get only what you wrote down, stop impulse purchasing
  5. Dedicate a day, and a set amount of time for cooking 
  6. Leave the food to cool down before storing them in the fridge (or freezer if needed)

And that’s the process that I used to meal prep. After that, you can lick the spoon, unless you’re a bad chef.

Where can I find meal prep ideas?

I usually get my ideas either from my mom or YouTube. Just remember, PICK HEALTHY FOOD PLEASE, even if your mom’s favorite dish is Pizza or Couscous. 

There are excellent blogs for meal prepping as well such as:

SET A MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF TIMES YOU CAN EAT JUNK FOOD:

The easiest way to get fat is by eating outdoors, and yes, this includes delivery.

At the beginning of my freshman year, I had too many things to worry about other than what I’m eating, so I ended up eating fast food almost every day.

junk food

Even when I started eating less from restaurants, after tracking myself I found that I ate junk food 4-5 times a week.

I found that the best way to control how many times I ate junk food, is by either setting a maximum amount of times I can eat junk food (for me it was once since I wanted to lose weight, but I think even 2 times is alright (I’m not an expert tough)).

Or you can just set a “free day” where you can eat whatever you want to, don’t push it too far though.

This way you can track exactly how many times you ate outside, and in case you broke the rule, you can punish yourself by not eating junk food the following week.

DON’T BUY JUNK FOOD FROM THE GROCERY STORE:

The number one reason I gained weight was junk food, and it wasn’t just food from fast-food restaurants, no.

I gained A LOT of weight because I fried french fries at my apartment almost every day.

I mean listen, they’re delicious, and I was stressed. This is never a good combination.

It wasn’t just french fries though, there were hot dogs here and there as well, some nuggets.

Anyways, after I decided to start a healthy life, I still sometimes fried french fries because I bought them and I didn’t know what to cook. 

I found that the best solution in order not to cook junk food is: NOT BUYING JUNK FOOD.

Especially now that we’re all in lock-down, it’s never a good idea to get junk food from the grocery store. 

Instead, you can get a ton of fruits and veggies

KEEP TRACK OF YOUR EATING HABITS:

The trickiest part about getting fat is not feeling like it at the beginning. You can easily gain 5-10kgs without feeling a huge difference. 

I would recommend that you keep track of your eating habits not only for your weight but also for your health (they’ve correlated anyways).

Don’t go crazy about it, however, don’t beat yourself up nor stress about it, just be patient and remember that the goal is to get healthy and not beautiful.

I personally didn’t notice that I was eating a lot of junk food at the time until I weighed myself one day and found that I was 6 kgs heavier than the last time I measured myself.

There are many apps that will help you get fit, some of them are mentioned in the page “Useful Apps for College Students” on this website.

You don’t have to write down every single thing you ate (although I think it’s a good idea), but you can just maybe type down: healthy food/junk food.

This will help you keep track of how healthy (or unhealthy) you’re eating. 

But always remember: DON’T BEAT YOURSELF, STAY PATIENT.

ELIMINATE SUGAR & ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS:

One of the easiest ways to get rid of a few calories (and unhealthy chemical compounds) is by getting rid of artificial sweeteners and sugar.

I used to use sugar with almost everything I ate (unless it’s salty of course).

However, after I read extensively about the matter I decided to eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners as much as I can. 

Further Reading: Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes

I, for example, don’t drink my coffee with any sweeteners anymore (and I drink a lot of coffee during my day). 

It’s hard getting used to at the beginning, as your coffee gets worse all of a sudden. But it only took me like a week or two to get used to it. I don’t even want to taste it with sweeteners anymore.

I should say that I don’t have a sweet tooth anyway, it wasn’t hard for me to reduce my sweeteners intake. I know some people are going to struggle with this more, but remember that your sacrifice is for your own health, think of it as an investment.

Conclusion:

Think of eating healthy as a long term investment rather than a “lose weight fast” scheme. 

I’m personally in this journey for the long run until the day I can no longer physically do it, in the coffin. 

ngl, that got dark real quick.

Anyways, let’s recap what can you do to eat healthy as a college student:

  • Meal Prepping (most important advice, saves time and your health)
  • Set a maximum amount of times you can eat junk food per week
  • Keep track of your eating habits (many apps can you help do so, or just use a notepad)
  • Try Eliminating artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes, as well as sugar

No matter how many hours you exercise, if you’re not eating the right food, you will not go far with your progress.

Eating healthy will make you: more energized, saves you time if done right, and you’ll reap the benefits in 50 years.

Stay safe and have a good day, and life.

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