A College Student’s Guide To Healthy Eating
As a college student, I see first hand the poor choices college students make on a daily basis, and their direct effects on a person’s health. The main reason college students make poor decisions concerning diet is the fact that they are uneducated on the topic. These poor decisions are heightened by the fact most college students don’t exercise, and make other poor health choices.
For incoming freshman, college can be very intimidating and lonely. To help make the transition easier, students rely on those things that are familiar to them. More often than not, this is in the form of food. What types of food? Usually those defined as comfort foods, like deserts and other unhealthy options. This is the first step in starting a destructive eating cycle.
Another factor that leads to poor dieting is new freedom. In combination with a constant availability of food, this freedom can lead to a rush to consume unhealthy foods. This will also add into the habit of eating poorly at school. The main time college students make poor eating decisions is late at night. Most campus’s dining facilities will close in the evening, leaving masses of hungry students looking for food late at night. Instead of a healthy meal, most kids will prefer to order food, especially pizza. They will feel pressured to join in eating because it’s the “thing to do”.
The first step for eating healthy is to make a commitment. If the student isn’t serious about making positive changes, they stand little chance against the pressures and temptations of college. The next step is education. A person can’t be expected to make the right decision if they don’t know that that choice is. Because it is sometimes difficult to decipher between healthy and unhealthy, here are some tips. If something looks unhealthy, it probably is. Things to stay away from are fried foods, such as fries and pizza. Loaded with fat, these foods provide little nutritional value. Desserts should also be limited or cut out completely. These sugary and fatty snacks easily can make a meal unhealthy.
Staying away from the bad foods help, but the real differences are made in choosing the most beneficial foods. Start off with the beverage. The only healthy option is water. Everyday I see students drinking sugary soda, and it is perhaps the easiest part of a diet to fix. Next is the main “dish”. Choose something balanced that is enjoyable but still healthy. An example would be lean meat or fish, or a sandwich made with whole-wheat bread. Pasta is a good choice too as long as it’s whole grain. Additionally, every meal should be accompanied by a fruit or vegetable. Many students usually have a salad as part of their meal, which is excellent. However, this can be a trap for many students. Be smart in your choice of lettuce, because only some offer nutritional value (Iceberg lettuce is mainly water; spinach offers the most vitamins and minerals). Also, easy on the dressing. It kind of cancels out the point of eating a salad if it is drowned in fatty dressing. As for late night snacking, having healthier options in the room such as bread and peanut butter, or cereal will help students eat better around the clock.
Students also need to adapt a healthier lifestyle, including exercise and better daily choices. This will help maximize the benefits of eating healthier. Students need to use their best judgment when deciding which foods to consume. By developing good eating habits, students can continue a healthier lifestyle long after college.