Living a healthy lifestyle is hard.
It’s even harder in college when you’re wrapped up in classes, a part-time job, extracurricular activities, and all you can afford is the (sometimes) limited options on your built-in campus meal plan. On top of that, some students are juggling diet restrictions like vegetarian diets and allergies. To accommodate all of these things, students often find themselves stuck in convenient, but unhealthy habits that can be difficult to break. But here are 5 easy ways – that can be applied to most diets – that you can eat healthily on a meal plan without breaking the bank!
1. Only drink water
People don’t realize how many calories they drink a day. A 200-calorie bottle of soda, a 150-calorie glass of juice, a 300-calorie latte. It adds up very quickly. Substituting all of these high-sugar and high-calorie indulgences with water will not only promote healthier eating habits and digestion, but it’s also FREE!
2. If you absolutely need that cup of coffee to get you going, try soy milk or almond milk instead of cream
Soy milk and unsweetened almond milk are both lower in sugar, fat, and calories than coffee creamer. They both have essential vitamins and minerals, too. These substitutions also work for bowls of cereal in the morning, hot chocolate, and smoothies. I promise, you won’t taste much of a difference, if any at all.
3. Get creative with the ingredients at the salad bar
If your school offers a to-go option, take advantage. Invest a few dollars in a box of whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or quinoa, and snag some veggies, beans, and meat or tofu from your dining hall. Stir-fry it with a little oil or water, and add balsamic vinegar or salt and pepper to taste. This is an easy way to cook your own healthy options while still utilizing the dining services you’ve already paid for.
4. Avoid fried food
Everyone loves fried food. There’s no denying that. But oil, on average, is over 100 calories per tablespoon, so fried food racks up calories very fast for very small portions. Some simple substitutions can cut down drastically on your calorie and fat intake. Mashed potatoes instead of french fries, grilled chicken instead of fried chicken, and fresh mozzarella on a sandwich instead of mozzarella sticks are just a few options. You can still fix those cravings without consuming an entire day’s worth of calories at once.
5. Keep track of what you eat
Apps like My Fitness Pal and Lose It! are just a few of the hundreds of food and exercise tracking apps that you can download to your smartphone. Apps like Water Your Body even keep track of how much water you should drink in a day based on your height, weight, and gender. Sometimes, to make healthy changes to your eating habits, all you need is to see what you’re putting into your body. That way, you can more easily see what you could eat less of, or need more of.
Image courtesy of The Harmony Company