College and Health.
Not really two words you hear in the same sentence a lot? Unless it’s something like, “Sally’s health has really gone down the shitter since she went to college.”
Being healthy in college (or even semi-healthy) isn’t easy, but it’s not totally your fault.
It’s just not possible to get all the sleep you need when you’re in school, you can’t afford anything remotely organic bc you’re poor af, dining hall food is pretty tough to navigate, there’s not a whole lot of time for cooking real food, and booze. So. Much. Booze.
But hey. I’ve got you.
I was CONSTANTLY trying new ways to be healthy in college. I was always playing a little game – how much can I drink without fully destroying my body? HA. I picked up tons of tips and tricks along the way. And I also picked up quite a few strategies over the last 10 years that I WISH I’d have known in college.
1. Make the dining hall your bitch.
No excuses for eating like shit at the dining hall. These days, most dining halls have a TON of options. Seek out the salad bar, hit up the omelet or the stir-fry station, and even check out the hot foods because you may be surprised at what you can find.
Go through the sandwich line and ask for/grab deli meats or other salad toppings that the salad bar may not have. Go to the taco station, make a huge taco salad, and add chicken from the regular salad bar instead of the mystery beef.
Look for a protein at every meal (chicken, beef – even a burger patty!, deli meats, eggs, shrimp, tofu, etc) + some healthy fat like avocado, olives, olive oil, or even cheese + some fiber (aka….throw some veggies on that plate!) and you’re g2g.
2. Have a smoothie for breakfast.
CHEAP. QUICK. NUTRITIOUS. If you have your ingredients handy, this will take 2 seconds. Honestly, if you do nothing else healthy with your life, do this. It’s so easy to pack a ton of nutrition into one meal. Throw in a scoop of protein powder, 1-2 Tbsp peanut butter or coconut oil, 1-2 Tbsp chia seeds, a handful of greens, and a little fruit. Done. Try my Coffee Bean Smoothie or peep my Breakfast Smoothie for ideas.
3. Get a slow cooker.
This is not a big monetary investment (here’s a solid one for $15!), but it’s a huge investment in your health. You can make a ton of food at once and have something nutritious to eat all week. Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken, Thai Chicken, and Italian Chicken are all 3 SUPER cheap, easy, and delicious meals you can make with no effort.
4. Grocery shop like a boss.
My Grocery Shopping Without a List Guide will be SUPER helpful for you, so check it out. Chicken, eggs, and canned tuna are really inexpensive proteins, and you can always shop the deals. Frozen fruits and veggies are your friend (get Dad to buy you a Costco membership for their bulk veggies alone) and keep your small splurges for fats – avocados, coconut oil, and almonds. Real butter and peanut butter, though? Both cheap and good for you.
If you stop buying processed/prepackaged snacks and other convenience garbage, you’ll have plenty of room left for some produce, trust me.
5. Make a 3-day plan.
Honestly, if you want to do well in college you should be planning out your week anyways. On Sunday, think about your Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday. You’ll deal with Thursday-Sunday when it gets there. If you plan for just those 3 days instead of not planning at all, you are going to make huge strides for your health.
Pick a few healthy meals for those 3 days and just do it.
6. Get a big ass water bottle.
Guess what! You’re probably dehydrated (seriously – I’ll tell you how much here). If you do just one tiny thing for your health, get yourself a big, pretty water bottle and HYDRATE. It’s amazing what it’ll do for your bod and metabolism.
7. Throw healthy snacks in your bag.
Control those snacks, people. Vending machines and campus T-bell sucks the life out of you. I’ve got some ideas here and here, but something like a bag of trail mix, almond butter packets, or RX Bars are great to keep on hand in case of an emergency.
8. Keep it simple, stupid.
Eating well does not equal eating elaborate kale salads. Stop making healthy eating seem so labor intensive! Example:
1. Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken + corn tortillas + lettuce + tomato + shredded cheese
2. Perfect Egg Salad + crackers or raw veggies
3. Plain, Greek yogurt + black berries + nuts
4. Deli turkey + cream cheese or avocado + pickle wrapped together
5. Egg-Roll Stir-fry (10-minute dinner!)
6. Scrambled eggs with veggies and avocados
Make a couple of proteins, maybe a batch of rice, a couple veggies…then have avocados, cheese, tortillas, and whatever else to add to your meals…and just combine them in whatever way sounds good at the moment.
9. Be mindful with drinks.
I’m not talking about alcohol – yet. I’m talking about anything you put into your mouth that you don’t have to chew, basically.
Soda, sugary coffee drinks, iced tea (the ones shaken with lemonade? Yeah, those have a ton of sugar), coconut water, cold-pressed juice.
These are all pure sugar, I don’t care what kind of health benefits you think you’re getting from any of them. Unnecessary calories + a blood sugar spike = fat storage. Done. Stick with water, sparkling unflavored water, coffee with cream, and unsweetened teas. Wouldn’t you rather have nachos than a f-ckin tea?!
10. For the 21+ crowd: Let’s get boozy for a sec.
First of all, read my Babe’s Guide to Drinking Alcohol. It’s full of goodness.
When you drink alcohol, you are poisoning your body (let’s call a spade a spade, k?) so you literally go into “expell the poison” mode and all other non-life sustaining bodily processes slow down. Like, your metabolism. Drinking SUGAR along with your alcohol is such a disaster for your metabolism, and you are more likely to store that sugar as fat because you’re just not going to metabolize it properly.
That being said, drinking SUGAR along with your alcohol is such a disaster for your metabolism, and you are more likely to store that sugar as fat because you’re just not going to metabolize it properly.
How to avoid this? Don’t drink sugar with your booze. Add some La Croix or club soda with tons of lemon (my fav). And when it comes to wine night, the sweeter the wine, the more sugar it contains! Try switching to something a little dryer – I LOVE a Savengion Blanc. It’s not super dry, but it’s not sweet either. Just perfect.
I hope that was helpful. What you do struggle with the most in college when is comes to health? Should I do more posts like this? Lmk in the comments or throw me a message on the ‘gram.