As seen on Project Made Real, here’s my post for this week!:
This week welcomes part 2 of our five-part “Eating Healthy in College” series! Today’s focus is on eating well while on a meal plan.
Living on campus is a major part of any university student’s life, the fun and friends (as well as late-night studying) are what defines our university experience. How then do we eat well in our home away from home? A meal plan potentially restricts our choices, but if you follow the proper guidelines, you’ll be able to navigate the dining hall well, and make any meal on offer a healthier choice!
Here are my tips for you:
1) Go for the whole-grain option
This is pretty self-explanatory. At breakfast, opt for wholegrain bread or oatmeal or muesli. For dinner, choose brown rice if it’s available. Wholegrains help you to stay full longer and contain more fiber than their processed counterparts.
2) Opt for Grilled/Baked/Steamed options
As you already know, fried food isn’t the best for you. When you’re on the meal plan, feel free to turn down the fried food, and just ask for the grilled/baked/steamed/stewed/sauteed options instead. There’s quite a lot of other options that are equally tasty.
3) Don’t forget the veggies!
On my meal plan at least, the veggies don’t look very appealing. Perhaps it is the fact that they use frozen vegetables, rather than fresh vegetables.
Nonetheless, if your meal plan has vegetables available, load up on them! They’ll keep you full and provide you with healthy nutrients. Check out the salad bar for fresh vegetables that are more likely to have retained their nutrients as well.
Fruits always make a healthy snack. You can stock up on apples and bananas since they are less perishable, and buy cut fruits or fruits like grapes/berries when you feel like having a change.
Have a bowl of soup with your meal. It will fill you up, and (hopefully) keep you from late-night snacking. Vegetable soups like pumpkin soup, carrot soup, leek soup and tomato soup are good ways to sneak in some nutrients too.
One thing I like about a meal plan is that you know there’s going to be food available. That means a good breakfast to kickstart your day!
However, sometimes the monotony of the meal plan can get to you. So why not treat yourself and have a meal out instead, rather than falling into a rigid pattern of what you eat daily.
Go out, have some nice wholesome food like an egg white wrap from Starbucks for breakfast, or grab some sushi or even some Korean food for dinner. The possibilities are endless. You could even cook! Check out my earlier post in the series for some suggestions 🙂
You don’t have to be limited to what is on offer, and you could always buy more vegetables/fruits to add on.
I know you weren’t expecting this tip, but let me elaborate a bit more. Everyone has different dietary needs. Some people need to eat more to maintain their weight, others put on weight very easily. By this age in university, you should know what’s right for you. Don’t compare the amount you are eating to what other people are eating.
Girls, don’t feel pressured to eat like a bird in front of guys, or in front of your friends who are dieting. You need to eat enough to nourish your body and keep your brain well-fed! It’s fine and perfectly normal to eat more than others.
Guys, I’m not sure what goes on in your heads, but if anything, don’t feel the need to a lot or spam protein, just because you’re expected to “eat like a man”. You know what’s best for you.
The healthy choice/portion size is defined by what is right for you! What have you been eating over the years to maintain your current weight? Keep at it! (Unless you are unhealthily overweight or underweight then you should cut down/increase your intake)
However, don’t get to obsessive about being healthy! Sometimes, just let loose and go for what looks good. Enjoy yourself, have some dessert and treat yourself to a “unhealthier” meal. You only live once after all! Don’t let your dietary restrictions limit you from going out with your friends for a pizza or dessert. Satisfaction gained from relationships and friendships cannot be replaced by your pursuit of optimal health.
Some of you may have noticed that I tend to have a disclaimer-like paragraph at the end of my posts, reminding you not to go overboard. Well, as the nutrition editor, I feel that it is necessary for me to remind you lovely readers not to go over the top in your goal to achieve a healthier you. There is no perfect definition of health! You don’t have to eat perfectly all the time, or cut our grains/meat/who-knows-whats-next to be healthy. I advocate moderation in everything you do. Eating well 70% of the time, and incorporating some exercise that you enjoy is good enough. As long as you’re happy, that’s what matters. Don’t obsess about exercising daily, or about that unhealthier meal you had. Listen to your body, it knows what it wants 🙂