College student Bella Edwards is making a huge difference in the food world through her colorful, vibrant, and very aesthetically-pleasing Instagram page, @bellaeatwards. This blonde beauty decided to go against the grain and figure out how she can conquer Emerson College's less-than-gourmet dining halls. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was blessed and fortunate enough to grow up with readily available wholesome foods and healthy food culture. But, with her budget-friendly tips and tricks, she is teaching us how to listen to our bodies and showcasing how fun and easy healthy eating can be, especially for us struggling college students. 

Frozen Is Your Friend, and So Is Meal-Prepping

First off, Bella stresses that healthy eating does NOT have to be complicated, expensive, or impossible in college. Many of us are convinced that eating a wholesome, plant-based diet is too expensive. Bella spends anywhere from $20-40 dollars on groceries weekly. She encourages her followers to be mindful and wise when shopping, which is why her go-to market for produce is Trader Joe's.

Another smart-shopping tip she swears by is to buy frozen. Frozen produce is cheap and lasts a long time! Bella knows firsthand how busy college students can get, and how tough it can get to eat healthy meals on a regular basis. She discovered that meal prepping has saved her money and time. Meal prepping allows her to get nutrient-dense foods into her body. Her typical meal prep consists of roasted veggies (Brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potato, cauliflower etc.), as well as chopped carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers on hand to throw into bowls or snack on. Bella also adds in a healthy carb, such as rice, quinoa, or farro. And for protein, she'll whip up some roasted chicken, salmon, or legume pasta. 

Sweat It Out

Bella is a huge advocate for listening to your own body. Not only does she fuel her body with wholesome meals and fresh foods, but she is a major workout junkie! Being a volleyball athlete for most of her life has made working out second nature to her. Now that she's quit VB, she has found her workout niche by taking classes at Corepower Yoga and OrangeTheory Fitness. Bella highlights that working out in these types of studios gives her a sense of community.

Sometimes in college we can feel lost whether we are at a big university or a small one, and finding an environment where everyone is sharing the same goals can help motivate us to keep pushing forward. She knows that trying new workouts can be terrifying, but it is healthy to challenge yourself. Living in Boston has taught her a great everyday workout–walking everywhere. Bella's goal is to hit 10,000 steps a day, and to skip the escalator/elevator as much as she can to get those steps in. Plus, it allows her to explore her city!

She completely understands that starting a workout routine is difficult, but she notes that finding a workout buddy can help with motivation, as well as it becoming a fun social activity. Another Bella tip: Carry workout clothes with you. You never know when you can fit in a sweat sesh.

Gut Health Habits

One of Bella's main focuses for her own self is her gut health. In her first semester, she experienced painful stomach aches on a daily basis. She cut out dairy and gluten for six weeks, and bam, they vanished. Another way she accomplishes this is to eat the rainbow, meaning at least four colors per meal. The more colors your plate has, the more micronutrients are going into your body. Bella talks about how micronutrients are what gives you that boost that your body needs, like glowing skin, (did I mention Bella has flawless, golden, healthy skin?!), digestion aid, liver function, higher energy/mood, and so much more. Once she incorporated colorful veggies in every meal, her gut health changed for the better. She promises that once you create a habit, you will feel empty and weird without seeing color on your plate.

Read The Fine Print

Many of us trust what labels claim to do on a protein bar, a "healthy" bag of chips, or chocolate-covered açai berries. However, there are tons and tons of unnecessary ingredients in a majority of products, and Bella makes it a habit to read labels. She brings this back to her gut health, and how our bodies are not meant to be eating processed foods with chemicals and loads of sugar. She encourages us to count ingredients, not calories. We should also stay away from ingredients we can't pronounce. Bella emphasizes that we need real food to feel energized, fueled, and nourished. 

Bella's Best Tips

Bella is full of helpful mantras, but some of my favorite tips and advice from her include:

- Exercise and eat in a way that fuels your body and mind. Sweating relieves stress, and working out/eating healthy makes us feel stronger. We can learn so much from our bodies, and it is OK to fail, because that is how we learn. 

- Live in the moment and it is okay to listen to your cravings. You do not need to skip social events just to stick to your healthy lifestyle. It is OK to take off a day from the gym or to eat an unhealthy meal. Put your relationships first, and focus on the memories and the people you love. One healthy meal doesn't make you fit, and one unhealthy meal won't set you back from your goals. 

- Whole foods will change your tastebuds, cravings, and gut health. 

- Comparison is the thief of happiness. Focus on YOU. Every body is different. Make the best choices for you and your body. Trial-and-error is totally OK! Change doesn't happen overnight. Enjoy the process and be patient.

- Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. Bella knows how simple this may sound, but I am sure we can all relate that it is much easier said than done. She quotes a TED Talk that uses an analogy for this: "Do we ever question when we need to go to the bathroom? When we pee, do we ever stop ourselves and say, 'No, you don't really have to go.'" No! Of course we don't. When we feel hunger, we should listen to what our body is communicating to us. We should fill up our bodies with nourishing ingredients, and stop when you are full. 

Bella Edwards is making a difference in the food world by promoting healthy, happy, and strong bodies. She stresses that life isn't about how you look on the outside. It may sound cheesy, but she never knew she could feel confident in her own body, which I am sure is how many of us feel. She is all about how things make you feel. Eating nourishing, healthy, whole foods and following a daily fitness routine makes Bella feel strong, confident, and badass, and that is a damn good feeling. Follow her on Insta (@bellaeatwards), to see the changes she is bringing to not only the table, but to the world.