Welcome to college. It's true, no one says it's going to be easy. Between the work load, navigating through campus, and the social scene, it's all an adjustment. However, it's also true that now is your time to become your best self. Starting college means becoming more independent and having control over more in your daily life including the food you choose to fuel your body with. We've all heard about the endless benefits of including whole, nutrient dense foods into our diets. But when cookies and cake are always available at the dining hall, it can be hard. Here are 8 ways to maintain a healthy diet at college. 

1. 80/20

The 80/20 rule states that 80% of the week you focus on eating nutritious foods and the other 20% you can allow yourself to indulge in those mozzarella sticks you've been eyeing. The reason this method is so popular is because it plays into the idea of being able to enjoy your favorite foods, just in moderate amounts. When you're craving a less healthy option, it may be easier to turn it down knowing you'll have it later on in the week.

2. Snacking Smart

If you're anything like me, you appreciate a good study snack. Sometimes we feel the need to munch while we study. However, we often don't realize how much food we are actually consuming. If you're a snacker, snack smart. Go for veggies and hummus or a rice cake and nut butter. Keep snacking clean and controlled. Listen to what your body needs for an energized study session.

3. Hydrate

Not only will increasing your H2O intake help satiate you and keep you full, but water is a natural cleanser for your body. Try to swap sugary sodas for carbonated water or water with lemon. Drinking more water can help reduce cravings which will in turn help you say no to the processed foods colleges offer. Also, your skin will thank you.

4. A Rainbow Plate

I'm sure you've heard it before but keeping your plate colorful with all kinds of nutrients from veggies is very important. Make it a goal to include a couple different colors of veggies in as many meals as you can. Even in your less healthy moments, try to include some veggies. Add tomato to your grilled cheese or peppers to your pizza. There's always a way to nourish your body.

5. Get Creative

Getting creative is something I have learned to do very quickly at college. The salad bar can be delicious but the same options over and over again can get a little boring. Whenever they're offered, I like to add grilled veggies, kale burgers, and other warm dishes to my salads. Finding ways to change things up is important because after all, you should enjoy the food you're eating.

6. Don't Compare Plates

This one is simple. Don't worry about what others are eating and don't let their decisions tempt you. Make decisions about your meals based off why you need to fuel your body and what you want- not necessarily what is popular.

7. Ask Why

Are you craving that cheesy slice of pizza because you're hungry? Or are you just bored? If you're hungry, eat- but fill up on foods that are good for you. If you're just bored and stressed, try to avoid mindless munching. Asking yourself why you want what you want is key. Sometimes you will have the cupcake you're craving but hopefully most of the time asking yourself why with help you take a step back and see what food your body really needs.

8. Eat Consistently

Eating consistently is important because when we don't eat much during the day, we tend to binge later. Sometimes it's difficult to figure out when to get your meals, especially during a busy week. Still, don't let yourself go the whole day without eating. I recommend writing your schedule down and planning the best time to get food before each day. Always carry and healthy snack on hand. Sometimes staying after class to talk to a teacher, running into a friend, a long lunch line and not having much time to eat happens. Having a snack in your bag in moments like these will ensure you don't go hours without eating.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle shouldn't feel like a punishment. Take it one meal at a time, and don't stress if you slip up. Enjoy it all. Who knew staying healthy could be so simple?