First-semester freshman year of college is full of new experiences, new friends, and newfound independence. It is also full of making new choices—especially for food. Rather than having home-cooked dinner, an established breakfast routine, and a fridge full of snacks, you have to begin making food choices on your own. There are five main reasons why healthy habits fall apart at college and knowing how to deal with them can make or break your freshman year. 

1. Not Knowing The Importance of Breakfast

milk, chocolate, candy, peanut butter
Elena Bailoni

In high school, breakfast was something that you didn't think twice about. In college, breakfast isn't something that every student always remember to eat, but it's one of the most important meals of the day. Whether it's heading to the cafeteria before class to grab eggs and toast, or keeping protein bars in your room to eat on the way to class, it's important to make sure you keep eating breakfast in your routine. Eating breakfast ensures that you have the energy to start your day, helps you avoid overeating at lunch, and has been proven to lower your risk of serious health issues

2. Issues Navigating the Dining Hall

wine, tea, coffee, beer
Smita Jain

In the first weeks of college, the dining hall seems very overwhelming. There are tons of options and you may be tempted to eat pasta, french fries, or pizza for every meal. It is important to balance your meals and find healthy options—every dining hall has grilled chicken, a salad bar, vegetables and tons of healthy choices. While it's nice to ~indulge~ on those fries once in a while, make sure that you don't go overboard; fill up on the good stuff too. 

3. The Addition of a "Fourth Meal"

cheese, mozzarella, sauce, crust, dough, pepperoni, pizza
Emily Waples

Whether you are staying up late cramming for a test, or you have just gotten back from a night out, you may be tempted to eat late at night. This is one of the worst habits that develop during freshman year—access to late night spots on campus and easy delivery leads to many students having a second dinner late at night. While a late-night dominos pizza once in a while won't kill you, adding a fourth meal to your daily schedule is not something you need to do.  Late night eating often leads to weird dreams, memory issues and can even make you hungrier the next day   

4. Exposure to Alcohol  

whisky, soda, juice, beer, wine, ice, liquor, vodka, alcohol
Alex Frank

We all know that there is a drinking culture on campuses all over the country so when you get to college you may be drinking alcohol more than you are used to. Alcohol is full of empty calories and you may not realize how much you are actually consuming. Making sure that you are aware of how much you are drinking and being careful around alcohol will help you stay healthy.   

5. Snacking

corn, sweet, cereal, milk
Isabel Wang

Snacking is something we all do whether at home or at school. But, when we are at home we usually have access to healthier options. Try to go to the grocery store when you can and load up on healthy snacks like fruit, veggies and healthy proteins so you can avoid the vending machine when you get hungry but still satisfy your cravings. If you don't have time to go to the market often, try keeping non-perishables like rice cakes, skinny pop, seaweed snacks, and nut mixes as well. 

Being aware of what you eat is one of the most important parts of college—it's a part of becoming independent. Making healthy choices in college may be hard, but it will prepare you for life and help you become more conscious moving forward.