College offers many temptations for students trying to create or maintain healthy eating habits. You may be on your own for the first time, and you’re free to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Cafeterias, all-you-can-eat dining facilities, vending machines, and easy access to food twenty-four hours a day make it tempting to overeat or choose foods loaded with calories, saturated fat, sugar, and salt. You may not be in the habit of shopping or cooking for yourself yet, and, when you find yourself short on time or money, it may seem easier to fuel yourself on sugary, caffeinated drinks and meals at the nearest fast-food place. Also, maybe you played basketball or volleyball in high school, but now you don’t seem to be getting much exercise.
On top of that, it’s common for people to overeat (or not eat enough) when they feel anxious, lonely, sad, or stressed, and college students are no exception. It’s incredibly important, though, to develop healthy ways of coping and relaxing that don’t involve reaching for food, drink, or other substances. It’s also important to eat regular healthy meals to keep up your energy.
Kidshealth.org offers the following advice on ways for college students to adopt a healthy food attitude:
- avoid eating when stressed, while studying, or while watching TV
- eat slowly
- eat at regular times and try not to skip meals
- keep between-meal and late-night snacking to a minimum
- choose a mix of nutritious foods
- pick lower-fat options when you can, such as low-fat milk instead of whole milk or light salad dressing instead of full-fat dressing
- watch the size of your portions
- resist going back for additional servings
- steer clear of vending machines and fast food
- keep healthy snacks like fruit and vegetables on hand in your room
- replace empty-calorie soft drinks with water or skim milk