So, here's the situation: 

College healthy eating has never seemed possible as the dreaded Freshman 15 rumor has been looming over your head since high school. Your favorite jeans are getting a little on the tighter side, and despite a possible long commute or somewhat-active lifestyle, you're wondering if these packed-on pounds are the result of crazy sudden muscle gain or a crazy amount of dining hall french fries.

parsley, mayo, salt, appetizer, fries, potatoes
Josi Miller

Or, an alternative: You're well into your second (or third) year in college, and although you've been trying to be a well-rounded individual, the lack of college healthy eating and general meal planning has turned you into... a WELL-ROUNDED individual.

Whole Foods Market, inside whole foods market, organic section, organic whole foods, Vegetables, Grocery Store, groceries
Shelby Cohron

Or, what about this? You're perfectly healthy, but with all of the different organic-non-GMO-grassfed-gluten-free options lined up on grocery store shelves, eating healthy when you weren't taught how to is a near-impossible task.

Whatever your case may be, here are some solid tips to start being conscious about the things you eat.

DISCLAIMER: I am a college student who is NOT currently pursuing a nutrition-related career; this being said, my tips are suggestions. If you or someone you know needs detailed and/or professional advice, good places to start would be the USDA's website, or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is a database to connect you with a local nutritionist in your area.

The Basics

Although some health-conscious individuals focus on the more technical side of healthy eating(like counting macro-nutrients and calorie tracking), here are the bare-boned basics that you should know about eating healthy in college:

Whole Foods>Processed Foods: Although they're delicious, Pop-Tarts and Ramen Noodles aren't necessarily the ideal breakfast and lunch; all of the processed sugar and insanely high sodium aren't doing anything to support your cause. A better suggestion for quick, college-budget fixes? Swap out your sugary breakfast pastries for boiled eggs, or learn how to make overnight oatmeal for equally portable options. A small adjustment to Ramen noodles could be as simple as not pouring the whole seasoning packet into your bowl, or adding fresh veggies/grilled chicken to them before eating can give you an extra boost of vitamins or protein.

Be Snack Smart: Make sure you're getting the most out of your snack time by opting for healthier alternatives; not only will they give you the nutrition that you need, but snacks like these will likely sustain you for much longer. Swap out things like greasy chips, sweet pastries, and candies for things like popcorn, dried fruits, and nuts and seeds. Snacks like these allow you to maintain the satisfying crunch or sweetness that you like while also making sure that you stay away from processed snacks.

Buy in Bulk:  As a college student, it may not be easy to continuously buy fresh vegetables and fruit to snack on. And besides that, it's reasonable to guess that whether you're working or not, a college kid would appreciate sticking to a college-kid friendly budget. For this, it's best to make sure that you buy a lot of your non-perishable healthy snacks in bigger sizes to limit healthy food insecurity: boxes of lightly salted/buttered popcorn (NOT bags; more popcorn for less $), family bags of whole wheat and seeded chips, cans of soup with a lower sodium content, and dried fruit chips can normally be found on sale in local stores; granola bars, frozen fruits and vegetables, and healthy trail mixes are often other healthy options that are able to be bought at bulk stores like Sam's Club or Costco.

Know Your Options in the Dining Hall: As a last resort, maybe you're completely unable to shop and you're stuck with what's served at your dining hall. Hopefully, you can make the most of it. Take advantage of any vegetable or salad bars available. If there's a section for vegan/vegetarian students, peruse through it every once in awhile to see if there are healthy grain options to add to your plate. If you can, substitute some of your heavy red meats for the occasional chicken or fish. Stay hydrated with water, tea, or diluted fruit juices. And be sure to take advantage of any fruit that is available; try eating an apple or orange for breakfast and grabbing another for an on-the-go midday snack.

The most important thing to remember is that it IS possible to stay healthy, although it requires a little extra digging. 

But there are resources all around to help you; were you thinking of learning how to cook healthy in college? Bloggers like FitFoodieFinds provide great articles on easy meals for college kids. Did you need a way to get fresh produce? If your budget allows, programs like Imperfect Foods provide inexpensive ways to deliver organic, fresh fruits and vegetables straight to your doorstep. YouTube also has a handful of creators who are committed to making healthy food on a budget. Remember that however or whenever you want to start, college healthy eating is something that all students can achieve.