Having a hard time finding nutritious options on campus? Check out these five tips to help you stay healthy in college while still enjoying yourself.
Note from Les: Today’s post is a special one. First, let me introduce you to the TBB intern Joanne! Joanne has been a lifesaver helping me keep the wheels on the bus here at The Balanced Berry. She’s a senior at the University of Washington studying Public Health and Nutrition, and this girl knows her stuff! I get questions all the time about tips for staying healthy in college, and honestly, I never know how to answer because my wellness journey began right before I graduated. So Joanne is popping in today to introduce herself and to share some helpful tips for my student readers. Take it away, Joanne!
Three years ago, I drove up to Seattle, Washington from Cupertino, California with my parents to move into my dorm room. Living on campus was really exciting since it was something new. A greater part of me was really excited for the new memories I was to make with my new hall mates and classmates, the food adventures I get to go on in Seattle, new types of food I get to try near campus or a little bus trip out, visiting the recommended coffee shops and restaurants in the Seattle area, and also getting the experience of campus dining.
When I was in high school, my college friends talked about “dining money/cash” or “points” they used to purchase food and beverages on campus. They talked about how they always ended up having some credits or “dining money” leftover which would ultimately get put to waste, so they would invite their friends from other schools to come and spend their dining money treating them to campus food. Not sure how much of a treat or luxury it would have been to get free campus food, but hey, free food is always the best.
Lucky for me, I lived in a renovated dorm hall where each floor had separate rooms for two to three people to live together, and in my building, we had a big community kitchen on the first-floor lobby. I was blessed to live in a building with access to a shared kitchen, which allowed me to cook food for myself and others. Having a kitchen was definitely something that helped maintain my healthy eating habits throughout freshman year.
However, not all of my food was homemade. I definitely did dine on campus at our cafeterias, a mini-campus market called District Market, and a campus-run restaurant right below my dorm hall called Cultivate. I rarely went to Cultivate, since it was not only pricey but sometimes a little hard to get seating since it is a restaurant that’s invitational to residents and non-residents. But I loved their beliefs on sustainability and nutrition in every single one of their ingredients so it was always worth the wait.
Anyway, now that I’ve given you some background, let’s jump into five tips to help to-be or current college students to maintain a healthy lifestyle while living in dorms!
Know your options
Check out what your dining hall or cafeteria has to offer, and if you have any dietary restrictions, feel free to ask the chef! Usually, foods would have some dietary label next to the food name, such as VEG if vegetarian, V if vegetarian/vegan, D for dairy, S for soy, etc. Also, check out the dining website to see if there is a rotating “menu” where you can have some insight about what will be provided on different days or meal times.
Also, know what is available on campus. Are there multiple dining areas? Cafes and restaurants around or inside campus? Check them out and see what they offer! It’s great to be aware of what is available and around.
It’s always great to be healthy on your own, but it’s more manageable and enjoyable when you have friends or peers that also practice healthy habits. Find friends who enjoy delicious healthy food, but also love exploring foods all throughout your area. Find people who not only motivate you, but who you can motivate as well to have workout sessions or be active in other ways, but also that are up for watching TV while enjoying salty pretzels, popcorn, and chocolate.
“Meal prep” what you can, when you can
Use your dining points/money wisely!
The list can go on and on, but I’d love to hear YOUR insight on how to stay healthy in college! Comment below with your favorite tips.
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