College is a time when students are expected to learn to be responsible adults while keeping up with hectic schedules and multiple responsibilities. Due to the fast-paced nature of life on campus and the financial challenges students face, eating healthy meals often takes a backseat in the priority list. Many students find eating healthy on a tight budget challenging, with cases of obesity and overweight rampant among college students. That said, students need to understand that research links healthy and nutritious meals with positive outcomes like better immunity, improved academic performance, and enhanced weight management. Here are some tips to help you eat and live healthy in college.
- Plan Your Meals
Since college students work with limited budgets and hectic schedules, planning meals is crucial for nutritious and consistent meals. By planning, you will be able to think about your nutritional needs, preferences, tastes, and budget. You will be able to strategize what to ear for the entire week, allowing you to focus your energy and thought processes elsewhere.
Planning your meals also allows you to save money when you get to the grocery store. Choose one day of the week to plan your food for the rest of the week, creating a grocery list of everything needed to prepare your meals. As you plan your meals, scan your fridge and store it so you don’t buy what you already have. Also, make sure to buy only what you will use when making your meals.
- Create and Follow a Food Budget
Your financial resources on campus are limited and you need to be cautious where you spend your funds. Unlike most of the items in your budget, your food expenses may fluctuate considerably from week to week. If you are not careful, you may find yourself overspending on some items. Budgeting what to eat may be challenging, but ensures you don’t run out of funds in the middle of the semester. Create a food budget, making sure to leave some room for flexibility.
A general tip is to plan your meals on a weekly basis. According to experts, planning is the ingredient you need to make your food budget work for you. With a good meal plan, you will know what you are spending your money on. Planning your meals also saves you time thinking about what to eat, and you can use the time to reach out to a professional with the request — will you do my dissertation for me?
Once you have created a meal plan, you need to stick to your budget. You need to use your grocery list when purchasing food items diligently, without falling into the temptation to spend unnecessarily. Once at the grocery store, it is easy to get sidetracked by flashy and unintended expenses.
- Prepare Your Meals
Although you may feel that ordering takeout is simpler and time-saving, there are numerous benefits to cooking your own meals in college. For instance, experts warn that most takeout meal options are unhealthy and contain excessive amounts of trans fats and sugars. By preparing your own meals, you gain more control over the ingredients used and ensure that you eat healthy and nutritious food. In the process, you will look and feel heathier, enjoy a boost in your mood, and manage your weight better.
Furthermore, evidence shows that cooking at home is cheaper and healthier compared to dining out. You can eat with your friends for the same amount it would have cost you to buy food for one at the restaurant. So, make it a habit to prepare your own meals at home.
- Adapt Recipes According to Your Needs
One of the best things you can do to enjoy your meals when working with a tight budget is to tailor your recipes to suit your needs and financial ability. Understand that someone with diabetes may need additional help tailoring their diet to their specific needs. Picking the meals that help you manage your blood sugar will be critical in such a situation. If you wish to lose weight, then you should also tailor your diet to meet those needs, without sacrificing the energy you need to keep up with those hectic schedules.
- Use Recipes with Available Ingredients
College meals don’t have to be complicated to be enjoyable. Understand that using the same ingredients for your meals does not mean that your food has to taste the same. With some creativity, you can produce scrumptious meals on a budget. Invest in ingredients that allow you to create a wide range of recipes and flavors.
If you love chicken, consider cooking a whole chicken and using it to prepare multiple dishes. Research multiple ways to stretch your recipes, making meals that you can freeze and eat at a later date. Remember, planning your meals increases the chances that your pantry or refrigerator will always be stocked with healthy food options.
- Drink Lots of Water
The need to drink water may sound cliché, but there is evidence showing that water has immense nutritional value. The human body is made 60% water and our organs need constant supply of water to perform their functions optimally. Drinking lots of water is great for your skin, brain health, and digestion. Carry a bottle of water with you to keep yourself hydrated during those hectic schedules. Drinking enough water also helps you maintain a normal body temperature, while lubricating and cushioning your joints. While there is no strict recommendation on how much water students need to drink, you should consider taking at least 6 glasses a day.
Eating healthy food in college requires planning meals, creating budgets, and being strict with spending. Buy non-perishable items in bulk and consider cooking and eating with a friend. Experts recommend cooking your own food as this allows you to choose the right ingredients based on your needs. Stick to your food budget when shopping for supplies. Together with exercise, healthy food will help with weight management and allow you to boost your immune system. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water as you keep up with your hectic schedules.