Note: As part of my mission at Tacos and Tempos, I want to abolish the stigma of weight. Your weight fluctuates, it is a natural part of body processes. It can be based on weather, stress, sleep, etc. so naturally college is a place where this can be affected. It may be discouraging to see added pounds (or lost pounds in some cases) on the scale but just know weight is temporary. Sometimes gaining weight is what your body needs and your body is just settling into a happy medium. Whatever the reasons, as long as you are trying to eat healthy and stay happy, don’t worry about weight changes in college.
College is an exciting and overwhelming time. There is so much freedom, so many new people, and it is your first time being independent. It is often hard during this transition to remember to keep health as one of your top priorities. It may seem reasonable at the time to skip dinner and stay up late to study but in the long run that causes a slew of problems. I’ll admit there are some weeks where this may be harder than others (*cough cough midterm week*) but little changes or actions in either your nutrition or sleep can make a big deal. Especially since college is also a constant petri dish and avoiding sickness is often impossible.
Stock up on snacks. Buy a few necessities to keep in your dorm room or backpack for snacks at the library or during class when you may not be able to get a meal in time or have prolonged periods without eating. I know it may seem insignificant, but snacks can help your metabolism and the right foods can boost brain function. No one can focus on an empty stomach. Here are some things I always keep near my desk or in my bag:
- Trail Mix: Nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, and dried fruit. Healthy fats help increase blood flow to the brain and if you buy ingredients in bulk, you can save money (because we all know we’re broke from tuition.)
- Protein Bars: There is always a fine line here with protein bars. Too much sugar can cause you to crash, and soy protein in many cases can mess with your stomach. I like to go for Kind bars, GoMacro bars, etc. Look for bars with high protein, low sugar, and a good amount of fat.
- Cereal: I love cereal for studying. Sometimes I will put some in a ziploc bag for the library. A little cereal goes a long way, it can keep you full and provide a good amount of carbs in a single serving. I prefer granola cereals because they have more protein and fiber.
A word on late-night snacks: Try to stay away from a lot of sugar or dairy before bed because it messes with your stomach and keeps you up at night
Breakfast. I know the importance of breakfast has been drilled into us since we were kids but I believe it rings truer in college. Students have class from morning to night, including studying in between and late into the night. It is easy to just grab something small and go on with the day but fueling with a good mix of protein, carbs, and fats will keep you from crashing a couple hours later. Aim whole grains and fiber to keep you fuller. Some example breakfasts are:
- Oatmeal w/ banana, peanut butter, and honey (can add chia seeds)
- Good amount of fats and carbs, plus fiber from the oats
- 2 pieces of whole grain toast w/ PB, banana or apple + 2 hard boiled eggs
- Breakfast sandwich with whole-grain bread/bagel, tomato, poached egg, deli meat and cheese
- Yogurt w/ granola and an apple + PB
- Apple w/ PB and 2 eggs
Fruits & Vegetables. Fresh produce is often a rarity in college but if you see it in the dining hall or house kitchen, take advantage of it! Grab grapes or berries for later and pile on the veggies for dinner and lunch. Vegetables contain a majority of your daily vitamin needs which will help fend off sickness in the months to come. You can also keep frozen fruit and veggies in the dorm/house freezer to heat up later or put into smoothies.
Vitamins. Invest in a good multi-vitamin. I use the Centrum Women’s multi-vitamin. You probably will not get nearly enough nutrients and vitamins from the food your eating due to what is provided. Take it everyday with breakfast and also iron if you aren’t really eating meat (because who knows on quality honestly). If you go to college in a pretty cold city, I would also buy Vitamin D for those winter months.
I know it’s hard to work around food when you can’t make it yourself and the ingredients are out of your control, but by opting for vegetables and focusing on a good amount of protein I promise that you can still eat healthy in college. Just make sure to hit your food groups and balance the protein, carbs, and fats. Food is good for the body and the brain so ensure that your nutrition reflects in your grades. Keep health a priority!