How to Overhaul Poor College Eating Habits

middlebury-dining-lgFinding it hard to eat right in school? No worries, with just a little planning and preparation, there are ways to stay temptation-free and lead a healthy lifestyle during those college years. People often assume that eating healthy means depriving yourself of the foods you love, but this isn’t always the case. The eating habits of the college set are flexible, so we don’t have to worry about creating too many restrictions. Rather than overindulging on our favorite unhealthy foods, we can learn how to limit them and pick healthier alternatives.

Here are some eating tips that can help you make healthier food choices and change your unhealthy eating habits:

Make Time for Breakfast. Eating breakfast will help prevent your body from going into starvation mode, which can cause you to binge on unhealthy foods later in the day. Instead of sugary cereals or a donut, fill yourself with steel-cut oatmeal, fresh fruit, whole-wheat toast with all-natural peanut butter, or an egg-white omelet with melted reduced-fat cheese. The emphasis here is eating a fiber-rich, nutrient-dense meal in the morning to fuel you with energy throughout the day.

Stay Hydrated. It’s an old trick in the diet books, but drinking fluids before and after your meal helps keep you satisfied and fuller for a longer period of time. Beware of beverages like sodas, fruit juices and decadent coffee drinks at Starbucks. Although these drinks may be filling, they tend to be high in calories and sugar, and lack nutritional value. Instead, opt for water or iced tea. If you want something fruity, it’s always better to eat whole fruits instead of relying on fruit juice. But you can also enjoy a fruit smoothie, just without any added sugars or syrups.

Eat Frequently. You heard right — you should aim to eat three full meals a day and have at least two snacks of fruits and veggies daily. If you eat every three hours, you’re able to stabilize your blood sugar levels so that you’ll never go hungry and be tempted to munch on a bag of chips. Some healthy snack ideas include a nut and granola trail mix, whole-wheat crackers with cheese, plain yogurt topped with fruit, or celery sticks and hummus.

Go Lean. If you want a cheeseburger, go ahead and have one. You can make a healthy twist on a cheeseburger by choosing a turkey burger, instead of the regular beef patty. Make sure to add tomatoes, lettuce and onions. Ask for a choice of reduced-fat cheese, and enjoy your burger on a whole-wheat bun. If you want to have pasta, choose the whole-wheat variety, and toss it over pieces of grilled chicken and tomato sauce. Craving chocolate? Enjoy dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is packed with the antioxidant flavonoid, which is proven to be good for your heart. It’s all about making healthy substitutes for the foods you would normally eat.