Following regular exercise schedules and maintaining healthy eating habits is a tough challenge for college students. With quizzes and deadlines approaching every week, midnight snacking with large cups of coffee is the norm during all-nighters. The midnight snacking custom might depart upon graduation, but the bad eating habits and the weight gain can haunt you afterwards. This can, however, be avoided by just sticking to some simple guidelines to help you develop good habits that will eventually stick to your daily lifestyle.

Try to eat lunch at the same time every day

With a different schedule every day it is hard to maintain a regular eating pattern, but you can still develop a pattern by snacking on a granola bar, yogurt, or a piece of fruit on your way to class. Low calorie chips are a wonderful snack to carry with you. Those 100 calorie snack packs have become a popular item in almost every local store. They‘re packed with delicious health-friendly treats and it saves you from running to the nearest Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks to buy a snack.

Make and carry a packed lunch

Along with snacks, pack a chicken wrap or tuna sandwich (of course, try to use whole wheat or whole grain bread). These main parts of the lunch provide protein. Making lunch for the day might involve getting up earlier than usual in the morning, but the effort is going to be worth it once you find yourself spending less money buying lunches. It also saves you time by not queuing up to pay in what may seem like a line of 100 or more students in the cafeteria. Best of all, the lunch you make will include your favorite lunch items, so it‘s something you‘ll look forward to eating.

Say goodbye to lunch hangouts and go to the gym with your buddies instead

If you have time to spend an hour or two chatting at a restaurant for lunch or dinner, then wouldn‘t you rather spend that time shedding some calories instead of gaining some? Exercise not only benefits you physically, but it also improves your mental health. It‘s a wonderful way of spending your time off and it helps ease the work load stress too. Get a good workout with friends and then sit together to eat your packed lunches – no waiting for the bill or asking to split a check.

Avoid shortcuts like protein bars and energy drinks

It is common for students to replace meals with energy drinks and protein bars. Although these things do provide the nutrition they promise, nothing provides the ideal nutrients that you get from a balanced diet. So make sure your daily diet consists of lots of lean meat (or other protein for vegetarians), vegetables, fruit and dairy products. Energy drinks and protein bars are acceptable in moderation or as part of a full balanced meal.

You don‘t have to completely block out restaurants

With McDonald‘s, Wendy‘s and Burger King at the corner of every block, it‘s hard to avoid them. Although their offerings are known for being fattier than other foods, you can choose their healthy options such as grilled chicken sandwiches and salads with low fat dressings. They‘re delicious and are much better than the Big Mac or Quarter-Pounder. Opt for water instead of soda and stay away from adding fries or dessert to the meal and instead ask for fruit and/or yogurt.

Get to it!

Following these simple healthy eating techniques will help you maintain a regular eating pattern that you can follow throughout your days in college and even after you graduate. So start today and enjoy it every day!

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Umaymah Tabani, DePaul University / The Depaulia

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