We’ve all heard about the Freshman 15, the expression commonly used to refer to the belief that new college students tend to gain an average of 15 pounds by their second year. This is no surprise. With many students struggling to balance school, work, assignments and well--- just life in general, eating right tends to get the short end of the stick. For some, without Mom and Dad’s cooking, whatever is cheap and easy to make becomes the next best option. Poor dietary choices are one of the leading causes.

Keep snacks in your dorm room 
Instead of heading to a fast-food place on campus to grab a greasy snack, make an effort to have some fruit or other non-perishable food items. Of course if you live on campus, you have to be mindful of the food you keep in your dorm. Be sure to store them on a table or in a shelf and not on the ground. If there’s budget and space, having a mini-fridge would be a great investment.

Some examples of food you can have in your dorm include:

  • Nuts and butters
  • Dried fruit, bread
  • Canned vegetables
  • Oatmeal, tortillas
  • Canned tuna or sardines

For students who live off campus, keeping these types of snacks at home is equally important if you want to try to stay away from the fast-food. That means lots of fruits and veggies, potatoes, eggs, chicken and fish.

Make time for eating
With such busy schedules, students often put eating a decent meal on the back-burner. Instead, many just snack on little things like chips, donuts or a slice of pizza. This is a big no! Not eating enough is bad for your health and it can also affect how you perform in school. There should always be time for food! Taking the time to set-up a meal plan will be worth the while.

If you have to eat fast-food, choose wisely
Fast-food is not something that can be cut out right away, especially if it’s what you’re used to. Start out by opting for the healthier selections. For example, if you do decide to eat pizza order one with less cheese. If you feel like having fries, try sweet potato ones instead. 

 When you're buying packaged or frozen foods, be mindful of the ingredients 
The same fast-food rule applies for frozen or packaged foods. People tend to generalize frozen food as unhealthy but that is not always the case. Choose the healthier selections, like the ones that are less processed and have more natural ingredients.

Trying to live a healthier lifestyle is definitely challenging when your corned with free pizza, parties and alcohol. It will take baby steps, but you’ll get there!