college healthy foods

How To Eat Healthy In College

Written By : Dr Andrew Kan   ✓ Fact Checked

Learn how to eat nutrient-rich foods in university with these tips! Discover easy ways to make healthy meals and maintain a balanced diet on a budget.

(Last Updated on June 5, 2024)

College life is exciting and full of new experiences. At the same time, maintaining a fit lifestyle can also be challenging. With busy schedules and easy access to unhealthy food options, it’s no surprise that many students struggle to eat well with the dining hall meals. However, making wholesome choices is essential for maintaining physical and mental health and can improve academic performance.

Eating a balanced diet while in school is possible with some preparation. Whether you live in a dormitory or prepare food in a shared apartment, various methods and techniques are available to help you remain nourished and invigorated during your university experience. This article will examine some efficient approaches to eat healthy in college.

Academic Success Starts with Good Nutrition: Practical Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Diet in College

As a university student, consuming a balanced meal is essential. This is not only for your physical and mental well-being but also for your academic success. Proper nutrition can improve cognitive function, boost energy levels, and enhance focus and concentration, which are crucial for excelling in your studies, especially in the first year of college.

At the same time, juggling coursework, extracurricular activities, and social life can make it challenging to focus on nourishing eating habits. This is where an academic essay writing service can come in handy, giving you more time to focus on your homework and care for your health. In this section, we will provide college nutrition tips and strategies for managing stress in school, which can benefit your academic performance and overall well-being.

Establish An Eating Routine

Planning your time for meals is a convenient way to eat healthier at the university. You can make more informed nutrition choices and avoid impulsive purchases by scheduling your food program. Allocate some time at the start of each week to prepare your healthy meals and create a shopping list. Adhere to your grocery options when you go to the store, and refrain from purchasing unhealthy food for breakfast.

Cook Your Meals

This is an effective method to guarantee that you consume wholesome food while studying in college. In addition to being more affordable than eating out, it gives you complete authority over the ingredients and cooking techniques.

By purchasing fundamental tools like a rice cooker, slow cooker, or microwave and learning uncomplicated recipes that can be prepared beforehand and preserved in the fridge or freezer, you can get started with an easy diet.

Choose Whole Foods

Opt for these rather than processed ones while buying groceries. They undergo minimal processing. And they are rich in nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants compared to processed ones. Whole meals comprise fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and lean proteins. The table below contains some examples of healthy foods that are abundant in vitamins, minerals, and fiber:

Food GroupExamples of Foods
FruitsApples, bananas, oranges, berries, kiwis, melons, etc.
VegetablesBroccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.
GrainsBrown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, etc.
ProteinChicken, fish, tofu, beans, lentils, eggs, etc.
DairyMilk, yogurt, cheese, fortified soy milk, etc.

Note: This table follows MyPlate guidelines developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This table shows the statistics for the right amount of fruit by age group.

Daily Recommendations
Toddlers12 to 23 months½ to 1 cup
Children  2-3 yrs1 to 1½ cups
4-8 yrs1 to 2 cups
Girls  9-13 yrs1½ to 2 cups
14-18 yrs1½ to 2 cups
Boys  9-13 yrs1½ to 2 cups
14-18 yrs2 to 2½ cups
Women19-30 yrs1½ to 2 cups
31-59 yrs1½ to 2 cups
60+ yrs1½ to 2 cups
Men19-30 yrs2 to 2½ cups
31-59 yrs2 to 2½ cups
60+ yrs2 cups

Note: This recommendation is according to MyPlate guidelines.

Make A Healthy Meal Plan

Incorporating healthy meal plans is a simple method to adopting nutritional college dieting. Instead of consuming chips, one could choose to snack on apple slices, baby carrots, or veggies from the salad bar. Also, instead of sugary beverages like sodas, it is advisable to drink water or seltzer. These minor modifications could accumulate and impact one’s feeding habits.

Watch Your Portions

It’s common to overeat when pressed for time or occupied with studies. Maintaining awareness of the amount of food you consume is essential for clean college eating. Take note of the quantity of food you consume. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with lean protein, and another with whole grains.

To regulate your portions and prevent gluttony, use smaller plates and utensils. Adopting this approach allows you to eat less food without experiencing a deficit.

Choose Healthy Snacks

Picking nutritional edibles is another important step in how to eat better in college. Snacks throughout the day can help you maintain your energy levels all day, but choosing nourishing options is important. Some healthy snacks for college include fresh fruit, yogurt, nuts, and whole-grain crackers.

Stay Hydrated

To be healthy and prevent overeating and cravings, consuming an adequate amount of water daily is essential. Aiming for at least eight glasses of water per day and carrying a reusable water bottle to class and the gym is recommended. To avoid health problems like weight gain,  it’s important to avoid sugary beverages such as soda and energy drinks.

Instead, opt for natural sources of sugar like fruits while limiting the intake of added sugars found in processed foods and drinks. Refer to the following table for examples of foodstuffs that should be reduced in consumption:

Food GroupExamples Of Food To Limit
FatsButter, margarine, fried foods, baked goods, etc.
Added SugarsSoda, candy, pastries, sweetened cereals, etc.
SodiumProcessed meats, canned soups, salty snacks, etc.

Note: This table follows MyPlate guidelines developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Avoid Eating Late at Night

This can be tempting, especially when college students are studying or socializing. However, late feeding can disrupt your sleep and lead to weight gain. Try to eat your last meal at least two hours before bed to give your body enough time to digest.

Practice Mindful Feeding

This approach can assist in controlling your hunger and favorable meal decisions, decrease stress and emotional feeding, and enhance your overall connection with food. Before consuming your nutrition, taking a few deep breaths, chewing and appreciating the flavors and textures, and avoiding distractions such as electronic devices can all be beneficial.

Don’t Skip Meals

Missing food has the potential to result in excessive consumption at a later time and can cause instability in blood glucose levels. These changes can impact your ability to concentrate and maintain energy. It is advisable to have three nutritious meals daily and include healthy snacks for college as necessary. For those with early morning commitments, a good diet and nutrition advice can be preparing a healthy breakfast ahead of time, such as overnight oats or smoothies, which can be beneficial.


Eating healthy in college involves consuming various nutrient-dense foods, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, and limiting the ingestion of sugary and processed foods. It’s also important to meet the recommended daily intake of crucial nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.

By following these tips and making healthy food choices, college students can improve their health and well-being and set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating habits.

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