College is a time to try out new activities, make new friends and learn lots of new stuff. While arguably the best years of your life, college also introduces heavy workloads, potential homesickness from family and friends and sleepless nights.
With all these new changes, it is extremely important to take care of your body by eating healthy and staying active. As a small step, make it your goal to cut back on some of these foods that are damaging to your health by the time you cross the graduating stage.
1. Sugary Cereal
Okay guys, time to adult. Sugary cereals were a great way to start your Saturday morning cartoon surfing as kids, but offer little nutritional value as young adults. First, it’s no surprise that sugar is worth limiting in your diet. White foods like sugar and flour are contributors to various health problems such as obesity. Moreover, some of these sugary picks are coated with BHA and BHT, ingredients that are suspected to be carcinogenic.
Pick this: Try heart-healthy cereal, like Cheerios, or pick a breakfast rich in fruit and healthy carbs.
Bagels are a common grab-and-go breakfast or snack. Don’t go switching your sugary cereal to a bagel, because while it may not seem to be high in sugar, your body will convert the refined carbohydrates into sugar, and then to glucose.
Pick this: Swap whites for whole grains. Choosing whole grain over white will keep blood sugar levels under control and your figure looking fly.
3. Microwave Popcorn
Hear me out. Living in the Netflix era we do, I know microwave popcorn is a go-to for binge-watching your favourite TV show or enjoying a scary movie, but what needs to go is microwave popcorn, not popcorn altogether.
The microwavable bags are lined with PFOA, the same dangerous chemical found in pots and pans, and the butter is laced with DA, a chemical that breaks down the cells that protect vital organs, such as the brain.
Pick this: Make your own popcorn on the stove top or consider purchasing an air-popping machine. You could also make your own microwave popcorn with a paper bag and kernels.
4. Ramen Noodles & Kraft Dinner
A stereotypical college meal has always been said to be ramen noodles and KD. These dishes may be fast and easy to make, but there are, believe it or not, other options that are just as convenient. Ramen noodles are extremely salty, and because they are highly processed, a preservative ingredient may cause digestive issues. Kraft Dinner has terrible processed powder cheese that is better left out.
Pick this: If it’s pasta you’re craving, opt for whole grain pasta. To step up the health kick, consider trying veggie noodles like zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash pasta.
Not food, but important to include in this list. If you’re a mad soda addict, do yourself a favour and cut back now. Many sodas are very sugary, but sugar is only one of a few concerns.
The caramel colouring in sodas like Dr.Pepper and Coca-Cola has been linked to cancer in animals and is a carcinogen for humans. The lighter colour in Mountain Dew and Fresca is made by BVO, a chemical used in rocket fuel.
Pick this: Water may be plain, but it is honestly the best liquid you can put in your body. To give it a little more flavour, try adding frozen fruit or a lemon wedge.
6. Canned Soup
Soup is another fast meal that appears to be healthy, but unfortunately, it’s all an illusion. What makes soup so appealing is that brands like Campbell’s Soup add the flavour agent monosodium glutamate to their soup, that increases appetite, but also causes migraines. Moreover, soup cans are laced with BPA, a chemical that is linked to weight gain and cancer.
Pick this: Make your own soup. Crock-Pot recipes are very accommodating to busy schedules because you can throw it together when you wake up and let it cook all day.
7. Processed Deli Meats
Highly processed deli meats, including bacon and sausages, contain nitrates that reduce the body’s ability to process sugar which could increase the risk of diabetes. To make matters worse, they are loaded with sodium, a danger for heart disease and can cause bloating.
Pick this: Create sandwiches and salads with shredded chicken breast or choose organic bacon and slow-cooked ham found in many grocery stores.
8. Fruit Juice
Again, not food, but you should think about cutting back on store-bought juice. The sweetness in fruit juice often comes from added sugar. The natural sugar in juice, which comes from fructose, can also be harmful, especially when you lose the added fibre and nutrients of the fruit in the juicing process.
Pick this: To enjoy the fruity goodness that is juice, try juicing or making your own smoothies. Chances are, your drink won’t have near as much sugar in it as you’d find in store-bought favourites.
9. Frozen TV Dinners
Time to learn to cook proper meals, friends. Trust me, I know the struggle. For the longest time, I couldn’t cook anything and even managed to screw up hot chocolate. Now that college has rolled around, it’s time to learn how to make meals for yourself, and frozen TV dinners don’t count. These microwave dishes are loaded with extra sodium and sugar, sometimes even your entire daily nutritional needs in one dish.