Everyone knows that college is supposed to be the best four years of your life, but a lot of the activities that contribute to the fun (brunches, drinking, late night quesadillas, etc.) seem to have an adverse effect on your health. Learning that daily mac and cheese (even if it was Annie's Organic White Cheddar) does not constitute a balanced diet truly crushed me, and I'm still struggling to understand that butter is, in fact, not a carb.
As I am clearly not an expert in nutrition, I asked my friend, Malia Dunn, for some advice. She's both a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian and works as at Essential Nutrition of Boulder, Colorado and the Gaudiani Clinic of Denver, Colorado.
What did I learn from this dietician? Read on to find out and get tips on how to make college the healthiest four years of your life.
Starting the Day off Right
Dunn starts with the obvious: breakfast is a must. Her AM game plan also includes maintaining a good ratio of proteins to starches. Don't just load your plate up with toast or waffles, add some protein with eggs, peanut butter, or breakfast sausage to keep your blood sugar and metabolism up throughout the day.
Before a Night Out
Looking for the best way to pregame your pregame? Ignore the myth that grains are best to soak up alcohol. A protein and fat-heavy dinner is the only way to keep your cool when the night gets faded.
Don't let the ease of the vending machine get you off track. When you know you're going to be away from the room for at least 3-4 hours, be sure to pack a snack. Dunn recommends fruit salad,
#SpoonTip: Squeeze lemon juice on top of the fruit if you're going to be out for a while. It'll keep the fruit fresh.Other options for healthy (and yummy) snacks include Justin's peanut butter squeeze packs, string cheese with fruit, overnight oats in a mason jar (for the hipster in all of us), and trail mix. If you're looking for a granola bar, stick to Kind Bars, Luna Bars, and Clif Bars (and Warrior Bars for athletes).
As someone with an extreme Starbucks habit, I was horrified to learn that drinking over 300 mg of caffeine a day (which translates to two grande cappuccinos) is harmful to your health. Not only will the excess caffeine make you jittery, it will also increase anxiety and negatively affect your metabolism (so hold that extra shot!).
How to Hack the Dining Hall
Even if you're not getting a salad, still use the salad bar to your advantage. Some extra nuts or tofu can add protein to a bowl of pasta, and side greens can add some color to your pizza. Mixing in salad bar toppings can transform your meal and diversify your plate.
Busting the Freshman 15 Myth
The Freshman 15, despite the hype, is not real. Yes, some students do gain weight because of the additional stress and new schedule, but these factors can cause both over and under eating. Most of Dunn's clients actually lose weight in college (and these are general health patients).
Dunn also recommends not putting too much focus on weight. Daily, weekly, and monthly weight fluctuations in college are normal. Unless these weight changes are drastic, which would be 10+ pounds in either direction, do not get overly concerned.
Physical activity is important. Try to workout 3-4 times a week for 30-40 minutes at a time. However, exercise does not have to be confined to the gym. Walking briskly and dancing at parties counts as exercise.
With Malia's tips, staying healthy in college is a breeze (and possibly Insta-worthy, if you do the overnight oats).