We all struggle with eating properly, especially when getting fit and working out. We tend to overeat or undereat, and it’s difficult to maintain a balanced diet. Many college students struggle with it every day.
We tend to overeat or undereat, and it’s difficult to maintain a balanced diet. Many college students struggle with it everyday. It kills me when I hear someone say he or she skipped a meal. Becoming healthier doesn’t necessarily mean weight loss; it could mean becoming toned or having a more active lifestyle. Media tell us that the starving, skinny look is attractive. Instead, what if we say looking healthy is attractive? Everyone's body type is different. It's what makes us unique!
Skipping meals is bad.
Skipping meals slows metabolism and often leads to high-calorie binges when fasts are broken. According to Memidex.com, a medical dictionary, Metabolism contains the sum total of the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life. You have to eat to maintain life. Don't torture yourself by missing meals.
Eating nourishing meals and snacks throughout the day keeps your metabolism humming and your body functioning optimally. Personally, I eat three meals a day with a snack between lunch/dinner and dinner/bed time. If we really stop to consider our hunger, fullness, energy level, and energy needs, we can trust our bodies to give us cues and honor them accordingly.
How to eat healthy during the day:
I know we have all heard it, but it’s true. Eating breakfast kick-starts your body’s metabolic processes and sustains you throughout the day. This is not to say you should eat ten items for breakfast, but eat a healthy dose of protein and carbs. (Yes, I said carbs!) Your brain runs on glucose; it's scientifically proven that you'll perform better in class if you eat something, anything, for breakfast...but your brain prefers carbohydrates! My favorite breakfast is a two-egg omelet with ham, cheese, and spinach. Yum!
Pack a lunch.
To save money and to save you from the scramble of trying to find something nourishing on the fly. Make a ham and cheese or PB&J sandwich, grab an apple, a bag of crackers, a protein bar, and walk out the door. Eat these four items throughout the day before dinner. I’m normally pretty hungry around 4 p.m., so I tend to save one of these foods to eat then.
Get in the kitchen!
We often eat a large dinner, which is okay at times. When you are eating out with friends or family, or making a meal with your roommates, go for it! Other times, try cooking proportional dinners for yourself. It’s awesome to cook and then divide food into multiple meals which will you save you time later. Take one out at night or for lunch the next day. Be smart about meal size by rounding out your plate. Smaller portions of the main course protein are great to pair with healthy sides like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
On the flip side, some people are hungry all the time. I know people who eat constantly. Personally, I feel the urge to snack when I study, work on a design project, or when I’m bored. Eating mindlessly out of habit or while doing other activities can become a serious problem; it's really important that we ask ourselves if we are actually hungry. If you're hungry, then by all means eat!! But when you feel yourself reaching for chips half an hour after a meal, you're probably either hungry because you didn't eat enough at the meal, or you are engaging in some mindless eating.
Try these tips:
Chew gum or brush your teeth!
Gum can be a great way to keep your mouth occupied while studying or sitting around. The minty freshness of brushing your teeth also helps curb mindless eating. (Note: Chewing too much sugar free gum can cause issues with acid reflux and abdominal gas/bloating).
Water, water, water!
Thirst is often confused for hunger, and water can flush out unwanted toxins. Water also helps save money at restaurants, and who doesn’t want that? When you are tired of water, try flavored water or hot tea. Green, peppermint, and chai teas are great for you and tasty!
Talk it up!
I give you permission to talk all you want! A flowing conversation can keep your mind off food and overeating.
Plate your snacks!
Try plating most of your snacks while eating at home. Often times, eating directly out of a cereal box or cracker bag can lend itself to mindless and distracted eating. If you plate your snacks, sit down, and make the time an enjoyable experience you are more likely to listen to your hunger/fullness cues, limit any mindless eating, and feel more satisfied afterward.
So, let’s get real. Are you eating too little or too much? How can you change your eating habits to keep your metabolism buzzing and your body functioning optimally throughout the day and avoid unnecessary overeating? If you need help, reach out to a professional. Nutrition services are available from Campus Recreation.
As college students, it’s hard to find balance, but take heart! Don’t ever feel insecure about yourself. Always remember that you are wonderfully and beautifully created, and you have so many people who love you for you!
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Cat S.
Susan loves the Lord, skiing, traveling, and anything adventurous. She’s been to twenty-five countries, and her favorite part about traveling is the food and experiencing the places off the beaten path. She’s an avid runner, and loves eating omelets after a good morning run.