Eating Healthy In College Dining Halls

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How to minimize the damage and eat healthy in college

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, we answer a viewer question who asked for our best tips when it comes to eating healthy in college dining halls.

This is another episode from our #WayBackWednesday series, where we highlight the best questions from previous episodes of our #AskLiveLeanTV Q&A show.

This question is from #AskLiveLeanTV Ep. 005, where we were joined by special guest, and fellow personal trainer, Leo Flowers.

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Here’s today’s viewer question:

aschultz13 on Snapchat asks: Hi Brad! What do you suggest to teens to help maintain a healthy diet, who live with their parents who do not follow a healthy lifestyle, or those going to college and cannot meal prep, or don’t have access to cooking food? What are you best tips for eating healthy in college dining halls?

To be honest, when I was in college, I just did the “college thing”.

Let me explain.

I lived in a college dorm, so I had to eat what was available at the dining hall, i.e. cafeteria meals.

To keep it real, at the time I wasn’t eating a lot vegetables.

But here’s the thing

As a freshman at college, I was still a teenager, therefore my body processed unhealthy food better than it could in my 30’s.

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When it comes to eating healthy in college, it’s going to be tough since healthy food is in limited supply in the dining hall.

Plus, it’s also expensive to buy healthy foods at the grocery store, especially for most college kids on a tight budget.

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If you’ve been to college you understand those skyrocketing costs for text books!

So all I can say is do the best you can do.

This means it may not the best time in your life to try and follow a strict meal plan.

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But this also means your diet doesn’t have to be 100% comprised of fast food, take out, pop tarts, and ramen.

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Healthy eating tips for college kids

Here are a few of the easiest healthy eating tips for college kids.

#1. Fill your plate with a protein source and vegetables

When you’re in the dining hall line up, think to yourself, what healthy source of protein do I want to it.

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Add that to the plate.

Next, add at least a cup of your favorite vegetables.

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By simply following those two steps for your meals, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

#2. Set some easy to follow parameters to minimize the damage

If you think it’s going to be too stressful to eat super healthy in college, then set up some easy parameters to follow.

Examples of these parameters could include:

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Although working out at the college gym is ideal, focus simply on being active.

Setting up these parameters will help you minimize the damage, so you’re not building unhealthy habits, while you’re in college.

Besides having no money, during these 4 years in college it’s easy to build unhealthy lifestyle habits.

In addition to eating unhealthy, you’re also probably sleeping less because you’re up late studying, partying, and “collaborating”.

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This makes building simple healthy habits, which take minimal effort, important, because you can take them with you once you get out of college.

#3. You can do some meal prepping

Every one has the opportunity to do some meal prepping.

4 Easy Steps to Meal Prep

Try stocking your dorm room with healthier snacks.

When Jessica was in college she survived on canned tuna, trail mix, and pretzels.

She would often take these snacks with her to eat between classes.

Focus on buying the easiest and most affordable “healthish” types of foods you can.

#4. Don’t make college harder than it has to be

College should be all about exploring, having fun, and making friends, so try not to make college harder than it has to be.

All 3 of us are guilty of not always eating healthy during college, and we turned out ok.

So enjoy your college years.

If you try to be way too strict by not going out to party, and enjoying a few beers, you will miss out on a lot of fun.

Then 5 years after graduation, you’ll probably go through a mid-life college crisis.

This means you’ll look back and will be disappointed that you missed out on the real college experience.

Side note…

If you have a chance to study abroad, I highly recommend it.

I missed out on that opportunity, and it is a regret of mine.

So if you do get the chance, rather than being rigid with your diet, make sure you get involved and embrace the culture by eating the local food.

This will allow you to grow and experience different things.

Bottom line on eating healthy in college dining halls

This is not the time to try and be perfect.

So don’t stress out.

Just do the best you can do.

Go check out this video post on How To Avoid The Freshman 15.


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Question For You:

  • Did you, or do you currently, meal prep while at college?

Be sure to share your answers in the comment section below.

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