For those of you starting college or returning to dorm life, you know eating “healthy” (or at a normal hour) can be a challenge. Dormitories can be tight living space and don’t usually have space to cook or store a lot of food. So how do you survive dorm life and eat whole foods? Follow my tips below and you will not only survive but you will thrive and establish habits that can stay with you for life!
Wellness And Wholeness
Eating healthy and staying active are essential for your overall well-being. As an integrative registered dietitian nutritionist, I consider the whole being - the body and the mind. Those components make up self care and help keep you grounded (even during finals).
Keep snacks, meals and water with you at all times. This will prevent you from reaching out for fast food at 2 am when you are pulling an all-nighter. If you don’t like water, flavor your water with cucumber and berries. Delicious!
So, this is part of being prepared. Find a local grocery store and stock up weekly on healthy staples. Depending on your budget and ability to cook, sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) and share the cost with roommates/friends.
Know where your dining halls are located
Research on what they have to offer
Hit that salad bar! Load up on your greens, fresh fruit, vegetables and lean proteins. Bring on the healthy fats - avocados, nuts/seeds.
Dorm Room Kitchen
Store shelf -stable - keep all these in tupper-ware or a large tote
Shelf stable items - peanut butter/nut butters, canned tuna/chicken/salmon, trail mix, snack bars (< 150 calories preferred)
Start a rotating fruit basket. Have someone sign up weekly to buy fruit and keep it handy and front and center.
Mini-fridge - basics milk (or nut milks), vegetables and any leftovers
Travel Size Blender - you can make nut butters, smoothies, nut milks. Or try my date protein balls (SSN recipe)!
Microwave - oatmeal, quinoa, couscous, soups etc…
Utensils - paper goods
Make cooking social and try a new recipe with your friends/roommates.
Smoothies - tone down the sugar and fill up with green veggies, healthy fats, handfuls of fresh fruit and use nut butters and/or protein powders.
Wraps with nut butters/hummus
Try batch cooking - make a pot of rice/quinoa or any grain. Then you just add in lean protein, vegetable proteins (beans and/or legumes)
Try to keep most of your food from whole real food sources and minimal processing. The other 20% have fun - it is all about balance and living in moderation. That is life!
Just move - physical activity doesn’t have to be herculean - you don’t have to train for a marathon to be considered physically active. Just aim to move - walk, run, stretch and/or practice yoga.
Sitting is now considered the new smoking - when studying try to get up and walk around once an hour. You will come back more clear headed and ready to tackle your studies.
Remember being well is not about being a certain weight or being skinny. If you find you are consumed with thoughts of eating “right” and exercising obsessively. Seek help and follow up with a wellness advisor. Being healthy includes mental and emotional health.
Avoid Stress Eating
When we experience stress our body reacts the same way, no matter the reason. Cortisol is released to give you extra energy. It releases blood sugar and puts your immune system into overdrive, which is a good thing - until it becomes chronic. When you are chronically stressed, your body is in a state of low-level inflammation and puts you at risk for abdominal weight gain. Cortisol affects your hunger cues and makes you crave those quick energy carbs. It can also lead to abdominal weight gain. Or I call “stress weight gain”. How can you stop this? By learning to effectively manage your stress (I know, easier said than done). Read my post on stress eating.
Here is a pic from the sororities at Emory University on a talk I gave on how to eat healthy while away at college. Thanks for the enthusiasm and great questions!!
Need 1-1 coaching? Ask about my student discounts. Plus, we can meet virtually and/or over the phone.