Eating healthy on campus is harder than it seems

There has always been the popular phrase “Freshman 15” to describe the weight you gain attending your first year. Although I didn’t gain 15 pounds, I have definitely put on weight and added inches to my waist. This is, of course, because the food options around me are limited to a bunch of junk food, especially being a broke freshman student living in a dorm. I’m now a junior with an apartment and limited money, yet eating even slightly nutritious food can still be challenging. This is hard, because I was raised eating well-rounded home cooked meals and taught the importance of nurshing my body. I implemented my new lifestyle so much that I began to literally feel sick from constantly eating a bunch a crap. So, do you see how that can be a problem?

When in college, broke and constantly on a time crunch, the most convenient thing to do is use your meal plan and *sigh* …  eat on campus. The first option is the cafeteria. Besides the breakfast, which is good most of the time, the caf only has above average food 1-2 days out of the week. So, on the days they do, the caf can be a nice resource to get a well-rounded meal. They have a salad bar, which is open everyday and is a good source of quick veggies. They also always offer vegetables of some sort, so I always try to get some to go with whatever I’m eating. However, I sometimes have to force myself to eat those vegetables, because most of the time they are not seasoned well. Also, I limit my caf meals because if I eat too much of it, regardless of how “healthy” it claims to be, I will get a stomach ache. I don’t know what they put in that food, but trust me, it’s happened to me plenty of times before.

The second option is the student center and the restaurants there. Students usually prefer the student center, because it has popular fast food options, but at this point in my college life, the student center and the caf are on the same level. Yes, the food in the student center will taste better, but it’s all processed crap that will make me feel sick if I eat too much of it, and I am tired of all the options in the student center because I have had it so much. Five years ago, I never would have thought I would get tired of Chick-fil-a, but after eating it constantly over 3 years, it happened. Chick-fil-a does have a nice garden salad with plenty of nutritious greens and veggies, but I’m not always in the mood for it. If I eat in the student center, I typically eat at Einsteins and get a sandwich from their deli options. It’s probably not the healthiest option, but it has lettuce and tomato, so that counts for something. Also, the sushi place that claims to be a healthier option, is typically not an option for me since I once ate sushi from there that I had let sit in my refrigerator. That was probably partially my fault for not eating it immediately but still …  ever since the upset stomach I got from that, I never looked back.

With that being said, unless it's breakfast, I typically try to eat food off campus. This can still be challenging because it can add up, especially if it’s not your typical fast food joint. The smartest option thus far, for my stomach and my wallet, has been buying groceries and cooking. This is the smartest idea, but it definitely isn’t the most convenient, which sucks. If you want delicious and nutritious food that also isn’t crazy expensive, you really have to plan out your meals. Also, as I said before, time can be an issue, so it's best to meal prep so you can just pop some leftovers in the microwave on your busy days. Regardless, with the demands of college, I find myself using every option I listed above occasionally. However, with hard work, Pepto Bismol, and dedication, maintaining a decent diet in college can be possible.

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