Food as Fuel: Living a Healthy Life at College

By Emily Satin

Your college years are supposedly the best years of your life.  These four years consist of living with your friends, taking advantage of opportunities, meeting new people, and most importantly, unlimited meal swipes.  For those of you who adore the dining hall, it is important to consider the benefits of eating well-balanced meals.  No, this does not mean download calorie-counting apps on your smart phone, and nor does it mean you should be eating spinach for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.  However, it means that you should take into consideration what you are fueling your body with.

Why is eating healthy worth your while? Well, it may not seem like it now but as the years go on after habitually consuming processed food (which is typically lower in nutrients than unprocessed, fresh food) your metabolism can and will catch up with you and your body will become unhealthy and consequently, you will put on weight.  By implementing better food habits as a college student, you will get into the routine of eating well and using food as fuel for your body.  Many people want to enjoy yourselves to the fullest while they are still a "kid"  but the truth is, living healthily is about as fun as life can get. 

The first step of this whole journey is learning how to conquer the dining hall.  For those who  don’t enjoy the Sodexo menu, keep an open mind and expand your horizons here.  For breakfast, you should take advantage of the abundance of options there are to offer.  One example of this is the fact that Marist has an omelet chef almost every morning. Despite the long line, this station is an easy way to consume a nutritious breakfast to energize your body for a day full of classes.  If eggs aren’t for you, try to avoid the sugary cereals and instead go for some Honey Nut Cheerios or Special K.  If you aren’t much of a breakfast person, definitely do not skip the meal in totality.  Instead, maybe grab a piece of fruit or a bowl of yogurt just to start the day properly with a satisfied stomach.  Secondly, for lunch try to hit up the salad bar that is stocked with leafy greens and vegetables!  No, this doesn’t have to be your entire meal for lunch, you can pair up your salad with some pasta or a slice of pizza.  The key is moderation.  Lastly for dinner, the dining hall alternates meals daily and has a very eclectic spread.  Why not try the grilled chicken? The chicken is a staple and can be paired with a variety of dining hall classics such as vegetables, rice, pasta, or even in a wrap.  Eating any of the given options will ensure that you will have enough protein for the day.  By having a meal packed with protein or whole grains you are guaranteed to be full for a longer duration and therefore, you may not be tempted to grab a desert on the way out.

The Marist salad bar. 

The Marist salad bar. 

Those are the fundamentals of eating healthy without allowing it to consume your social life or plummet your grades.  With just a little bit of practice and a moderate restriction for some foods this will leave your body feeling revitalized.  Aside from consuming food, it is also an obvious necessity to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day in order to keep your body hydrated. It seems rudimentary, but in college, it's all too easy to forget to do this as you tackle long hours of studying in the library and in classes.  These tips are not hard to follow, and be sure to continue eating this way over the duration of breaks when you’re home.  You can eat anything your body craves, just in moderation.  Make sure to treat yourself too and don’t take this “healthy lifestyle” too seriously.