To your delight, dismay or complete indifference, the school year is finally upon us. Though it is evident we all have a lot on our minds, I’m adding one more item to the list: healthy eating.
For many people this is at the very bottom of the to-do list, when really it should be towards the top. During the school year we all get run-down and stressed from juggling classes, work and social lives, meaning eating well gets put on the back burner. The irony is that we may be able to cope a little better if our diets gave us the nutrition to function fluidly.
With the new school year, many individuals are in new situations. Freshmen with their meal plans have to adjust their appetite control to the abundance of food in the dining centers.
Many sophomores are living off campus and buying food for themselves for the first time and others may be juniors or seniors trying to improve the shameless eating habits built during previous years.
It’s exciting to walk into the dining hall and scope out what goodies are being served for each meal. It’s also a similar feeling when you’re shopping at a grocery store. If you don’t have a strategy you end up walking up and down each row of food and grabbing what looks good.
A few chicken strips to start, but it’s not enough so you make mac-n-cheese and eat the whole box. After that you top it off with a few Oreos for something sweet. Meals like this are fairly high in calories with low nutritional value. To top it off, you feel full and groggy for a while but still get hungry later in the night because the meal was empty carbs.
To defeat this tragedy there are a few things to focus on when it comes to buying or choosing food.
First, planning ahead is a must. Before going shopping look at your events for the week. Will you be out of the house or home to make a meal? This is important when you’re deciding what to buy.
If you’re gone a lot but want to eat healthy, you will need to get foods that are easy to pack. If you’re home and have a little time to cook, you can invest in food that requires a little more preparation.
Do your best to make sure each meal has a protein source and a vegetable or fruit. If you’re often on the go, packing a sandwich with an apple and carrots (or other fruits and veggies you can eat raw) is an easy way to get all of these in.
Also, bringing easy snacks such as granola bars or a piece of fruit can help curb hunger between meals. This can help prevent you from overeating.
Lastly, try buying week to week. Some products you buy like eggs, flour, sugars, oil and noodles may last a little longer and you will buy every few weeks. As for produce, meat and items that are perishable, only buy the amount that you think you can eat within a week.
A lot of these tips can also apply to freshmen with a meal plan. Go into your meal knowing what’s offered and what you need—a quick meal or a sit down and eat. By knowing what’s being served you can save yourself from wanting to grab a little of everything.
I hope these tips can give you a start to eating and feeling better.