The struggles of staying healthy in college

Caleb Baird

I’m not going to sugarcoat this: Staying healthy in college is not easy. With such consistently busy schedules filled with meetings, classes and social activities, we often make quick decisions on what to eat, and those quick decisions are often not the healthiest.

Honestly, we choose fast food and snacks because they allow us to keep moving and stay working. We fall into the routine of picking those easy-to-grab, extra-sweet and salty snacks because they’re reliable. More often than not, convenience trumps nutrition. We occasionally glance at the calories if we are really intrigued at how much we are taking in, but we forget about the trans and saturated fats and the immense amounts of sodium. 

Let me stop here because I could talk all day about the ingredients in foods. Lets answer the real question: Why is it so hard to eat right in college, and how can we make better decisions?

If eating healthy was an easy task in college, there wouldn’t be such a thing as “the freshman 15.” It’s also worth mentioning that you can find fast food at every corner of a college town. I know I’m not the only one who indulges in midnight Taco Bell (it just tastes so much better after 11 p.m.).

Of course, I also stay up much later in college, which provides me with more time and opportunities to get hungry and eat. I know a lot of us have also done the “bored eating” thing where we really aren’t that hungry, but we don’t have anything better to do than snack. Netflix just isn’t the same without a bowl of hot Cheetos.

Also, pop. Pop is killer. All that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is so bad for you, but it tastes so good. It’s especially difficult to say no when you’re looking for that extra caffeine boost. I’ve pulled many late-night study sessions with the help of Coca-Cola.

Because of my busy college agenda, I never really prioritized my diet. Last year, I decided that something had to give, and so I made a change. First, I started grocery shopping. This alone made a huge difference. I now buy things like lunch meat, quinoa, vegetables, fruit and other healthy snacks.

One of the biggest dietary changes I made was eating breakfast. Before last year, that was the meal I most frequently skipped. Now, I eat either a banana or yogurt with granola. Both options are quick, easy and portable. 

Water is also worth mentioning for so many different reasons. One is that it keeps your body hydrated, healthy and energized for the day ahead.

Finally, I think it’s important to note that no matter how many positive eating changes you make, diet can only do so much if your body isn’t in shape. While before I was only exercising a few times a week, I now work out every single day. Even on busy days when I can’t make it to the gym, I try to find something active to do at home or on the go. This also prevents the temptation of bored eating.

All-in-all, being healthy in college is not always easy, but it’s certainly worth it. You have to come up with a plan and a solution that is best for you and stick to it. That’s what I did, and I’ve never felt better.