I know what you are thinking. Eating healthy is difficult in college. It’s expensive, takes too long, and just isn’t important enough right now. Sadly, this is how many college students feel, and by the time they are ready to change into a healthier lifestyle they’ve already developed terrible habits. And anyone who has made the switch to eating healthy knows that bad eating habits are pretty much the hardest habits to break. To help you make the switch, I will offer you a few tips. This will not be a quick process by any means, but you know what they say, “Slow and steady wins the race.” Oh, and it will be easy, cheap, won’t take long, and is the most important step you could possibly make for your future life.
Tip #1 – Nothing too Drastic
This will make your transition into healthy eating easier and more enjoyable. Don’t start shopping at wholefoods, don’t start eating only organic, don’t become a vegetarian (unless you want to). Drastic changes in dietary habits never stick. Instead remember the food pyramid from gradeschool, and work towards getting each group into your daily diet. Find a healthy snack and meal that you enjoy and add it to your daily/weekly menu. Skip McDonalds or other fast food joint once this week. The small improvements you make will make you feel good about yourself, won’t be too costly, and will motivate you to pursue a healthier lifestyle overall.
Tip #2 – Pack a lunch
This one will require a little effort, but the benefit is so great that it is worth it. First off, this will save you huge amounts of money (and college students are poor). Second, this gives you a better idea of what you are eating and how good or not good it is for you. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat the things you like, but rather that you can also stick a bag of carrot and celery sticks in there too, or another healthy snack.
Tip #3 – Slow it down, Speedy Gonzales
Enjoy your food. Take time to actually think about the taste of your food. It takes your stomach about 7 minutes to respond to the amount of food you’ve eaten, so that means that you could potentially eat 7 minutes worth of food after being full. Ever notice that after a big meal you feel like garbage? That’s because you aren’t just full, you are beyond capacity. If you take your time and eat slowly your body will signal that you are full and you wont over indulge. Just another easy way to cut calories.
Tip #4 – Make it a Big Deal
One great part about cooking a fancy meal is that you know it’s a big deal so you savor every minute of it; the preparing, the cooking, the presentation and of course the tasting. By making healthy meals a big deal you squeeze every moment of enjoyment out of the meal. You will be excited with the entire process, rather than just the meal like fast food.
Tip #5 – Learn to Cook, use Recipes
Cooking can be like therapy, especially when you enjoy what you are cooking. Find a great cookbook, or even better get recipes online for foods you’ve never had, or never knew how to make. By cooking and eating new exotic foods like curries, stirfries, and other crazy fantastic dishes, you won’t want to head to your local fast food place for dinner. It just wont seem right. My newest craze is Roasted Garlic Hummus. It’s fantastic, and it’s healthy. I eat it with pita chips, carrot sticks, and celery. Great stuff!
Tip #6 – Enlist Friends in your Health Goals
One of the easiest ways to eat healthy is to be surrounded with other health conscious eaters. Get your friends excited about what you are doing and they will definitely want to be part of it. This is one of the best tips, because there is nothing worse than trying to eat healthy and going out to lunch with friends who love to eat junk.
Tip #7 – Supplement
Lets face it; most of us aren’t getting all of the vitamins and minerals we need, regardless of our eating habits. One easy way to help with this is by supplementing. A good multi-vitamin is a great way to get all that you need and help your body fend off foreign contaminates. Vegetarians and vegans will want to supplement with a Vitamin B complex, and some women may want to supplement iron and folic acid. I supplement protein when I workout, about 1000mg of vitamin C daily, and a regular chewable multivitamin (i don’t swallow pills very well, so if I had a regular multi-vitamin I just wouldn’t take it…).
Tip #8 – Skip organics
For the most part, the cost of organics isn’t worth what you are getting, especially not at this point in your life. I’m not saying that organics aren’t worth the money, but the extra money you will save by buying regular produce can be better spent elsewhere, and chances are you aren’t rich enough to justify it right now.
Bonus #9 – You tell me
There are millions of great tips for starting your healthier nutrition goals, and I can’t possibly be the only one who knows a few. What are some of your best ways to eat healthy? What tricks do you use? What tips would you give a friend? Leave a comment and let us know!