Eating Healthy in College: How to Avoid the Dreaded Freshman 15

Freshman 15? No Wayshutterstock_105331145

You are about to begin what most people consider to be the best years of your life: those glorious college years.  Unfortunately for most, what is also part of the deal is the dreaded “freshman 15″…or for some, the dreaded “freshman 30”!  Anxious that it will happen to you? Don’t fret!  This doesn’t have to be you if you enter college prepared and motivated in keeping your high school weight, or if ambitious, lose weight while in college. Say, what? Say, Yes! Udemy has a wide range of courses that can keep you not only slim during those college years, but healthy and clearheaded.  While fun, college is also extremely trying and stressful, but you can learn a lot from a course that teaches you ways on  how to avoid stress eating during your time in college and especially during all those dreaded finals weeks. Eek.  With a little knowledge in your cranium, you can make college a lesson on not only how to make a living but establish a foundation for a healthy lifestyle .  So now lets make a game plan for college –  a game plan that will help you avoid most temptations and maintain that high school bod.

The Basics of Healthy Eating

Between exams, papers, maintaining an active social life, and trying to become that big man/woman on campus,  it may seem easy to ignore the basics of healthy eating.  But it is gonna take a lot of preparation to make sure not to become the wrong type of big guy or gal. But before you can begin to wage the war on the bulge in your college years, you must know the basics of health eating.

Vegetables

Oh you remember, those greenish things your mom would force you to eat, that are supposed to have all these special benefits and give you super powers?  Well maybe not super powers but vegetables are an absolute necessity if you want to eat clean and stay lean.  Vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals and (the greatest part!) low in calories.  Veggies are a great way to feel full and not fill out your jeans in the process.  Another benefit of eating vegetables is that they are high in fiber – which normalizes bowels movements, helps maintain bowel health, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and will definitely aid in weight loss or weight maintenance.  Half of your plate should be fruits (which we will get to in a minute) and those veggies your parents always pestered you to eat.  This will be constant throughout your college career – learning your parents were right all along.  So make sure that plate has plenty of colors and is not simply the bland colors of fast and easy to make food.

Grains

Foods in this group include bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast, cereals and tortillas.  An important rule of thumb is to always make half of your grains whole – a way to ensure something is whole is to check its nutrition label: you should read “whole grain.”  Whole grains contain our familiar friend fiber and we all know its tremendous benefits.   Similar to veggies, whole grains are also a great way to fill up without packing on the pounds.  Just remember to make sure it’s “whole grain”!

Fruits

Ah, now to that other half of what should make your plate colorful and festive.  Fruits have a substantial amount of benefits and they are also so yummy!  Fruits are great sources of potassium, fiber, vitamin C and folate.  Fruits are so great that nature pre-packed them for you! How beautiful is that?  As a college student always hitting multiple snoozes on your alarm, you will undoubtedly breakfasts regularly.  Grabbing a banana, apple, peach or plum could tie you over until your class ends.  Also, fruits make a great alternative to desserts, as they have natural sugars and can stem cravings for late night sweets.  It is important to remember to choose whole fruits over fruit juice and when choosing juice to avoid added sugar as much as possible.

Protein

While most people consider proteins to only include meats, poultry, and seafood, other forms include eggs, beans, peas, nuts, and processed soy products like tofu.  When choosing proteins you should always select lean cuts of meat saturated fat and cholesterol intake.  Even though you are still young in college and seemingly invincible, you have to think about fat and cholesterol and start good habits at a young age may add years to the end of your life.  Again we return  to the wonders of fiber – nuts, peas and beans are all excellent sources of fiber.  Seafood is an especially crucial protein with regards to healthy eating as it is a great source of omega-3 which is important for the prevention of heart disease and help you maintain a healthy heart from a young age.

Dairy

This group includes foods made from milk that retain their calcium content, like cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.  Other great dairy products include calcium-fortified  beverages like soy, almond and rice milk.  When choosing dairy products, remember to always chose low-fat or fat free.   Dairy products can be great for you since they are rich in calcium and fortified with vitamin D – this is important since most who begin college have about 4-5 years of growing left  and calcium and vitamin D are important for bone growth and health.

So now that you are “schooled” (ha) on the basics of healthy eating, a good rule of thumb is to picture a standard sized plate that consists of your “color” (fruits and veggies) at 50%, your protein at 25% (your the size of your palm) and whole grains should take up the remaining 25%.  A course in healthy cooking fundamentals would pair great with your new found knowledge of the basics.  Now we can jump to any essential component of eating healthy in college: meal prepping.

Prepare that Meal Before its too Late!

We all understand the plight of the broke student -but don’t let that be an excuse to gain weight in college.  The main culprit to eating fast food and junk in college is a lack of preparation.  Meal planning and prepping while in college ensures you will not only have healthy pre-made meals at the ready, but avoid all those dreaded quick fixes that may sabotage your waistline.  While grocery shopping, having a detailed list will provide a valuable road map to healthy eating. Also, with recipes in tow, you can know what you’re buying for and also not waste on what is not needed.  Udemy offers a way to slash your grocery budget and meal plan and ensures you are buying towards your healthy eating plan without the need of taking out an extra student loan. Now lets go over some real easy steps in meal planning:

  • Look in your cupboards, fridge, and freezer  and make an inventory of what you have and what you need.  This ensures you don’t “double- buy” anything or forgot a crucial part to one of your go-to healthy recipes.
  • Plan on how you could use these items throughout the week.  Mixing and matching items can be fun and also ensure you don’t get bored with your meal selections.
  • You may need specific items or ingredients to complete your meals. Make sure these are on your grocery list before you leave to the store.
  • Take a look at your local grocery store’s weekly ad (they are often online as well)and circle the specific items or ingredients you can use.  Also, farmers markets are a great source for healthy and locally grown organic produce and they are always nearby colleges.
  • Look over your meal plan for the week.  Just because you plan doesn’t mean you can stray from the basics of healthy eating.

So, What do I Make?

Well, now that you are equipped with the basics and understand the importance of meal prepping, it is time to cook!  No need to fear, this is the fun and rewarding part  –  cooking meals that taste good and ensure you stay fit. Since most quarters or semesters begin in the fall, a very helpful course that teaches simple healthy fall recipes would be a great companion to take with you as you start your college experience.  Lets start with a simple recipe that will ensure you can indeed follow a recipe and that you don’t burn down your dorm room:

Breakfast: Whole Wheat French Toast

1 egg
½ cup skim milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon, to your taste
Nonstick cooking spray
¼ tablespoon butter (optional), plus extra for serving
2 slices whole wheat bread
Syrup (optional)

– Crack the egg into a bowl, and add milk. Add the vanilla extract and/or cinnamon (optional).

– Mix the bowl with a fork until the yoke is completely dissolved and the mixture is a light yellow color.

– Spray a skillet with cooking spray. Add the butter to the skillet, and spread it throughout (optional). Set the burner to medium heat.

– Dunk one slice of bread into the egg mixture, and flip it. Don’t let it soak for more than a few seconds (so that it doesn’t get too soggy), and then place it onto the skillet.

– After about 3 minutes, check to see if the bottom of the bread is golden brown. If so, flip the slice and cook it for another 3 minutes.

– Serve with butter or syrup, as desired.

And thats about it!  Here are some more recipes that will allow for fresh thinking and ways to think outside the box in college. Good luck, study hard (and fit in a little partying), and don’t forget to eat healthy!