Many college students are away from home for the first time, and they have the freedom to eat what they want and abandon the healthy eating habits they’ve grown up with. They also find themselves pressed for time or stressed, so they eat on the run. To prevent the typical college weight gain and compromised immune system, adopt some healthy eating habits to keep your energy and resistance to illness high.

Start with Breakfast

Begin the day with a healthy breakfast. For those days when you don’t have time to stop by the cafeteria on the way to class, keep fresh fruit, bread for toast and single-serving juice containers in your room. This can help prevent those mid-morning cravings for sugary treats and help you focus on your classes.

Limit Fast Food

Fast food can wreak havoc on your health if you aren’t careful. Limit stops at fast food restaurants, and when you do go, bypass the French fries and other fried treats. Order salads, sandwiches that don’t contain fried or greasy meat, and baked potatoes. Select healthy pizza toppings, such as olives, mushrooms, and green peppers. If you must have meat, opt for Canadian bacon, which is much lower in fat than pepperoni.

Healthy Snacking

For decades, vending machines have been the bane of many college students. They also carry the responsibility for the unhealthy “freshman fifteen,” referring to the number of pounds college students often put on their first year at college. If you keep healthy snacks, such as raw veggies, yogurt, and fresh fruit in your room, you may not have the urge to snack on chips and candy bars. Other healthy snacks that are easy to keep in your room are popcorn, pretzels, low-fat string cheese, raisins, trail mix, applesauce, and granola bars.

Limit Sugar and Alcohol

Sugar is high in calories but low in nutrition. Even if you don’t feel that you can completely eliminate it from your diet during college, limit the amount you consume. Instead of eating a whole candy bar, have a piece of fruit first and split the candy bar with someone else who wants to stay healthy. Limit the amount of sugar you sweeten coffee and tea with. Instead, use a small amount of honey or diet sweetener.

People sometimes forget that alcohol has calories, but like sugar, it doesn’t have any nutritional value. While in college, you’re better off abstaining from alcohol. However, if you do drink, limit yourself to one cocktail, glass of wine, or beer. If you feel peer pressure, offer to be the designated driver and stick with fruit juice or diet soda.

Balanced Meals

Even college students need a balanced diet of protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats. Eat a variety of vegetables and moderate amounts of protein. Limit fats to the healthier choices, such as olive oil and nuts.

Stay Hydrated

Drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water each day. Carry around a sports bottle filled with water and drink it throughout the day to keep from being dehydrated. If you work out, you’ll need even more.

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