Dear incoming freshmen: Please, do yourself a favor and do not make my first-year dietary mistakes. When you go from eating your family's homemade meals every night to having the choice between a nutritious meal or a pint of ice cream for dinner at the dining hall, things can get tricky. But keep these healthy tips in mind so you can fuel your mind and body for success.

1. Do not eat waffles every day

cream, pumpkin
Luna Zhang

Unfortunately, my freshman year self was not aware that waffles pack a lot of calories and not a lot of nutritional value. So, I decided to eat a Belgium waffle with whipped cream every day for a month. Eventually my pants stopped fitting and I couldn’t figure out why.

I came to find out that one waffle has about 412 calories of essentially cake batter. Adding toppings such as whipped cream, syrup, and chocolate sauce will make your caloric intake skyrocket. So yes, I wish I would have chosen a much healthier breakfast. Try overnight oats or any form of eggs, and you'll be better fueled to take on the day!

2. Do not eat for no reason

snack, eating popcorn, popcorn, fish
Jocelyn Hsu

Whether it’s for social reasons or just pure boredom, don’t chow down when you’re not hungry. Eating just because your roommate is eating is never a good idea. Rethink stress and emotional eating as well. There are better ways to handle your negative emotions such as exercise or meditation.

Social eating is a fun method of entertainment, however, keep it to a minimum if you can. It will save you lots of money and calories. Listen to your body and only eat when you’re hungry, not because everyone else is doing it.

3. Late night eating is a trap

fresh pizza, homemade pizza, pizza from scratch, olives, sausage, pizza, pepperoni, mozzarella
Sam Jesner

Late night snacks are amazing. The atmosphere in the dining hall is upbeat and the food is delicious. However, proceed with caution. It is very easy to be sucked in every night eating an additional meal after 9:30 pm.

Eating late at night is great if you need to grab a really late dinner or a pre/post going out snack, but don’t make it a daily habit. Some studies show that eating late at night could potentially cause weight gain and disrupt your sleep cycle. 

4. Don’t pour it up

ice, wine, soda, liquor, alcohol, beer
Herman Li

College campuses have a variety of drinks that are constantly at your finger tips. The fountain juices and sodas that are offered in the dining halls are full of sugar. Choose freshly-squeezed juices over the fountain ones.

The best option, however, is water. Seltzer water is a good option if you like carbonated drinks. Throw a lemon in and it almost tastes like you’re drinking Sprite (kind of). If you’re not a fan of carbonated water, you can try some of the infused waters that the dining halls offer. Some popular flavors are citrus and mint-infused. Or, you can even make your own flavored water right in your dorm.

5. Don’t skip meals

sweet, juice, apple
Katherine Baker

The Freshman 15 is a well-known aspect of the college experience. However, many students fall on the opposite end of this spectrum. Numerous students may unintentionally lose weight in college due to not eating enough nutritious food.

This can be due to skipping meals because of busy schedules or simply forgetting to eat. Not having enough energy makes your body feel weak and makes you more prone to anxiety. Make eating a priority regardless of how busy you are.

6. Ration your passion

lettuce, carrot, corn, tomato, salad, onion, vegetable, pepper
Angela Kerndl

Portion control is something that many college students have a hard time with. Eating a bowl of pasta every night with three slices of triple chocolate cake will catch up to you. Trust me.

Make conscious decisions to eat a variety of foods, and try to keep unhealthy ones to a minimum.

If you find that you have a hard time knowing what correct portion sizes are, consider taking a basic nutrition class. Nutrition classes have a ton of useful information about portion control, moderation, and eating a well-balanced diet.

7. Limit the unlimited meal plan

dining hall, dorm
Denise Uy

Although the Unlimited Meal Plan is a great option for students, be cautious of how frequently you are going to the dining halls. Eating when you're not hungry can lead to overeating and food waste. You may even find yourself wasting a lot of time at the dining halls for no justifiable reason, solely because you don’t have to worry about how many swipes you are using.

#SpoonTip: If you find yourself only eating two meals a day, consider switching to another meal plan that your school offers.

Hopefully these tips help you rethink some of your daily habits, and help you come up with ways to fuel your body so you're ready to take on that chem exam or the dreaded group project.