“I’m a college student and I eat Ramen every night!”

College students have one area that presents them with a greater challenge than most others face, and that’s eating well. My oldest can sing a song about it; it can be pretty darn hard to eat well as a college student.

College just seems to throw a lot of roadblocks to healthy eating that non-students don’t seem to have to deal with, including super-tight budgets, lack of cooking tools, and ridiculously busy schedules.

Believe it or not, there are ways you (college kid) can break through these roadblocks. It may be challenging, but despite them all, it’s possible.

Focus on eating well most of the time, not on being perfect. 

It’s almost impossible for anyone to stick to their diet 100% of the time. Eat healthy 80%, indulge the other 20%.

The diet I am suggesting is based around eating what our ancient ancestors ate such as meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and natural oils (also known as the Paleo Diet). Processed foods (sugar and grease), white bread and white pasta are not part of this diet, so the goal should be to minimize them as much as possible.

Living in a Dorm

For the first three years of college, my daughter Melody lived in a dorm and loved it. 

All throughout this time, she was stuck on a meal plan. While the cafeteria offered a lot of options, much of it couldn’t even be considered healthy.

So, if you’re living on campus and are required to have a meal plan, is there any hope for you?

I think there is. While you may not be able to eat perfectly, you can get close, and doing well is what really counts. Let’s look at some strategies for getting the healthiest bang for your buck in the dining centers.

Even though being on a meal plan means you’re forced to eat at a certain place, you’re still faced with an abundance of choice when you enter that dining hall.

The key to eating healthily on a meal plan is making the right choices and steering clear of the bad ones.

Here are some healthy meal choices Melody found in her own dining centers:

  • Grilled chicken
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Salad bar (this was her main staple)
  • Hard-boiled eggs at the salad bar ( she loves eggs)
  • Omelettes (breakfast)
  • Veggie stir-fry with brown rice
  • Whole wheat pasta

Now, all you have to do is stay away from the bad stuff.

Her younger sister Christy is a freshman this year. She lives in a dorm and has a meal plan. But, not having a kitchen doesn’t stop Christy from eating healthy. Her small fridge is stocked with these items from Aldi:

  • Nuts (almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds)
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese (she is in love with it)
  • Veggies (peppers, spinach, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, lettuce)
  • Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, bananas are her favorite)
  • Peanut butter
  • Milk

Her room also comes with a microwave, which allows her to prepare her own breakfast before an early class. For that she stocked up on oats, cereal, whole wheat bread, cinnamon, honey and granola.

Living Off-Campus

This year, Melody is a senior and she will be sharing an off-campus apartment. She can now prepare her own healthy meals, even on her tight budget. Thank goodness for Aldi where she’ll do most of her grocery shopping. Aldi has quality groceries (including organic items) at affordable prices. Aldi’s organic and natural Simply Nature and Fit & Active products are up to 50% cheaper than national brands. This will allow Melody to eat healthy and stay on her budget.

Bottom line, no matter where you live  

Even if your motto is “We can get free meals if we join every club on campus,” or “Pizza at 2 a.m. helps me study better,” eating healthy during college is very important. But it has to be you that initiates the change. Remember, perfection is not necessary; you just need to focus on eating well as often as you possibly can.

 

*** Aldi provided me with a gift card to try some of the items mentioned in this post.  I have been grocery shopping at Aldi since I was a little girl living in Germany (Aldi was founded in Germany in the 60s).   I love Aldi’s low prices and quality products, and we shop there every week.

 

 

 

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