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Eating Healthy In College, It’s Easier Than You Think

Heading back to college after 6 luxurious weeks of home-cooked meals and unlimited access to a fully stocked pantry? Our friend Danielle Clark, food blogger and Instagram extraordinaire, is a freshman at the University of Colorado, Boulder and shares her tricks and tips on eating healthy in college!

“Ugh, I need to start eating healthier” is the third most uttered phrase I hear in school, falling short to “who’s going out tonight?” and “yup, I definitely just failed that exam.” There’s a myth that eating healthy in college is not only difficult but impossible, so why try? I’m going to bust that myth today and tell you that eating healthy in college doesn’t have to be that hard, even without a kitchen.

The BYOS Bar Should Become Your Best Friend

Of the three dining halls we have on campus, all of them offer a salad bar. Now, are these BYOS (Build Your Own Salad) bars on the same level as Whole Foods? Nowhere close. However, they are a great option for a healthy dish. You’re able to control what goes into the salad and can customize it to your liking. It takes me five minutes max (well, if the dining hall isn’t too crowded) and satisfies me for a few hours. Creating a big salad for at least one of my meals ensures I get my vegetables and fiber in, along with a balanced, healthy meal.

Here’s what mine typically looks like:

  • Greens – spinach, romaine, or arugula
  • Veggies—carrots, grape tomatoes, mushroom or beets
  • Protein—tofu, beans or hard-boiled egg
  • Carb—rice, quinoa or potatoes
  • Dressing—balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Make Breakfast At Home

It’s funny how you spend our entire lives starting school at 8am, then you get to college and the thought of a class before noon makes your whole body cringe. You’re bound to have some early classes in college, and my advice, probably similar to your mom’s is don’t skip breakfast!

Skipping breakfast is not the way to start your day and while it may be hard to force yourself to eat something so early in the morning, you just have to do it. Instead of opting for a dining hall waffle or loaded bowl of sugary cereal, make something in your dorm room or apartment. Again, you’re able to control what goes into it and monitor your portions. I recommend preparing some overnight oats and topping them with nut butter, fruit, greek yogurt (extra protein!) and some sort of seed and/or granola. (Watch out for the sugar in your granola of choice, though. Some are just as loaded with sugar as cereals.)

Another great option for you savory fans is making some eggs in the microwave and having them with a bar (Perfect Bar is my go-to). This way, you get protein from both the eggs and bar, carbs (from the bar), and healthy fats!

Snack Smarter

Days get long in college real quick and before you know it, it’s 5pm, you’ve been on campus since 10 and haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast. In order for proper brain function, you must constantly nourish it with food. I always have at least two to three bars on hand, in case I find myself in a situation where I don’t have access to a real meal and need something quick. My favorites? Perfect Bars, RXBARS, GoMacro Bars, and Square Bars. These all contain a great source of protein, carbs and healthy fats, which is just what your body needs.

While I’m all for snacking, doing it mindfully is the key.  College campuses offer free food left and right, so eating healthy in college really comes down to deciding what’s best. If you have just eaten a bar and someone hands you a cookie, take the cookie and save it for later! Nothing says you can’t have the cookie, but just keep in mind you just ate. Making better snacking choices fuels your brain for maximum performance, keeps your metabolism going and allows you to recognize your hunger signals.

Embrace Balance

College isn’t about staying in your dorm every night and worrying about calories, fat or sugar. It’s about experience. If someone wants to go on a pizza run, say yes and go! If you want some ice cream with some friends, even if it’s dessert number two for you – go for it. Be aware of your habits – don’t let the bad ones outweigh the good and remember to live well.

Life isn’t about strict diets and counting macros; it’s about smiling, having a good time and living in the moment. Being healthy is about having the best of both worlds, and enjoying them full heartedly.

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About me

Danielle is a food loving, healthy living, coffee obsessed freshman at University of Colorado, Boulder, but grew up and still reside in San Diego, California. When not hiking the flatirons or finding new places to brunch, she creates healthy, easy and delicious recipes on my blog, Besides fitness and food, I love a lazy rain day, cuddling with my four Siberian huskies, a quality Gilmore Girls episode, or traveling to different countries and exploring what they have to offer.

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