Everyone has heard of the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen,” but have you ever thought about why it’s so common for people to gain weight when starting college? College is a fresh new start for everything. You’re living in a new place, making new friends, studying new topics, and enjoying new ways to socialize. There are so many things your brain is focused on as you enter college. It can be easy to neglect your health and it’s common that people do this! Let’s talk about a plan to maintain a healthy balance, create healthy habits, and overall prioritize our health as we enter into adulthood.
Dorm life – you either love it or you hate it. Either way, that little dorm will be your home for the next several months so you might as well make the most of it! In most dorms, there will be a community kitchen that will be available for you to use. In your own personal dorm, there will probably only be a microwave for you to work with. You may be thinking, “How am I ever going to be able to cook for myself and have healthy options with just a microwave as my only appliance?” Here are some ideas for every meal of the day for those of you with a full kitchen and those with just a microwave.
Some ideas for nutritious breakfasts that don’t require extensive cooking include Quaker Instant Oats! You can either make these hot or combine with ½ cup of milk and refrigerate overnight. These are super customizable, so feel free to add a variety of fruit, spices, and sweeteners like honey to keep the oatmeal tasting yummy. You could also try making avocado toast, microwaved eggs, and turkey bacon. To microwave eggs, just beat eggs with a splash of milk and microwave for 30 second intervals and stir until cooked to your liking. To get in some much-needed protein for breakfast, try a Greek yogurt bowl with peanut butter and berries. It’s important to get in protein since it helps you feel fuller longer, getting you through those first classes of the day.
LUNCH on the go
Lunch could be all over the place, depending on if you are on campus for classes, studying, or at home. Here are some lunch ideas that you can make with just a microwave (or not at all) and will be easy for you to bring on the go. Whole grain wraps with either pre-cooked chicken (like Tyson frozen chicken) or low-sodium turkey breast. You can fill these up with veggies too, like lettuce and tomato. In the same way, you could also easily pack a salad for an on the go option. Another option could be what we call an “adult lunchable” which includes whole wheat crackers, cheese, and low-sodium turkey. Don’t forget to include some fruits and vegetables to give you some mid-day, much-needed vitamins and minerals to keep you out of that afternoon fog.
Simple Dorm DINNER
Dinner can be the hardest meal of the day to make, but it doesn’t have to be! Let’s talk about some easy dinner recommendations that can be made with minimal cooking skills. For those of you with just a microwave, try microwavable Tyson Grilled Chicken Strips with a sauce of your choice, steamable vegetable packs, and microwavable rice packs. Explore some options at your local grocery store that are microwavable friendly. I also recommend the Publix Protein Power Bowls for a quick, one-stop shop to hit your macros.
Now that we’ve covered the main meals, let’s discuss snacks and other tips and tricks to help you maximize your space and help you save money. Buy frozen and canned fruits and vegetables: they won’t go bad in 2 days and are just as nutritious as fresh fruits and vegetables. These are super helpful for making smoothies as an afternoon snack with a scoop of protein powder. I recommend almond milk for college students because it lasts way longer than regular milk, meaning you won’t keep pouring out bad milk and having to buy more. Buying a rotisserie chicken at the beginning of the week can be super helpful, especially if you aren’t able or don’t want to continuously cook chicken. These can be used in your wraps, salads, or anything else throughout the week and will be ready to use. I recommend utilizing your REC center that is on campus to save money on a gym membership and making a plan at the beginning of the semester that helps you balance your school/social/health schedule.
All in all, have fun and enjoy your life. Incorporating some of these tips and tricks throughout your experience could take off some of the stress that accumulates in college. Remember to eat intuitively, make a plan, and prioritize your health during these crazy times!