How to eat properly in college.



Both on campus and off campus students at Alabama State University are weighing the benefits of eating healthier. Many are realiz- ing that burgers and pizza are not going anywhere, but they can find lower-calorie options that offer more nutritional value. However, there are times when college students deviate from the healthier options. Pictured above are several students who are enjoying “Fried Chicken Wednesday” a favorite lunch consisting of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and peach cobbler.

Tammia Jacobs, Staff Reporter/Writer

Learning how to eat nutritious food in college may be challenging, but it is not impossible. Whether students rely on the Alabama State University meal plan in the Fred Shuttlesworth Dining Hall or cook their meals in an off-campus apartment, they can find healthy, satisfying options that will fuel the body and give students the energy they need to perform their best in their classes. 

More and more universities across the nation are catering to the growing desire for healthier options by offering a wider range of nutritious foods in their dining halls. Pizza and burgers are not going anywhere, but students can also find lower-calorie options that offer more nutritional value.  Locating healthy options in the grocery store is a matter of knowing what to look for. If you want to eat healthily, you have plenty of choices.

“I usually try to grab at least one fruit and vegetable from the cafe with each meal,” said Desiree Johnson, a sophomore marketing major.  “My go-to fruit is either cantaloupe or banana, and normally there is either broccoli or some other vegetable offered in the vegetarian station.  It’s especially important for me to maintain a healthy diet because heart disease runs in my family. I know that the first step to avoiding that is eating right as much as possible.” 

It is helpful for students to keep healthy snacks in their residence hall rooms. While working hard on projects or assignments, a lot of students cannot help but get hungry.  It is important to avoid stocking the room with junk food and salty snacks.  Stocking up on low- calorie and nutritious options is a great way to avoid the temptation of harmful food to the body.

“Although getting fresh produce from the store can get pricy, it’s definitely worth it,” said sophomore dance minor Kyla Palmer.  “As a dancer, I have to make sure to keep my body in the best shape possible. I try to eat clean, mainly fruits and grains. Once a week, I allow myself to have a ‘cheat day,’  where I eat whatever I want. Cheat days are just as important because it makes the diet practical. Ever since I have been sticking to my weekly diet plan, my body feels great.” 

As a student, do not limit yourself to ramen noodles. Here are a few of the healthy, delicious snacks students can keep in their room or apartment to munch on when they need a quick refueling — assorted nuts and seeds, unbuttered popcorn, whole-grain crackers, rice cakes, apples, oranges, pears, oatmeal and high-fiber cereal, and whole-wheat bread with peanut butter. 

Drink plenty of water. With a busy schedule, it is easy to forget to stay hydrated. So many students opt to try a soda instead of reaching for the nearest water bottle. However, water has so many benefits to the mind and body, including boosting energy, helping with weight loss, aiding in digestion, detoxifying the body, hydrating the skin and so much more.

“My tip to my fellow students would be to stop drinking as much soda,” said Nia Davis, a freshman with an undecided major.  “There are soda machines all around campus, but I prefer to drink water because it keeps me hydrated, clears my skin, and most importantly, I’m avoiding all of the extra sugar that is put in soda.” 

For the students who live off-campus, having a personal kitchen allows for the freedom to design a menu, but it also means that they have to purchase their groceries and prepare their meals. They have the option of choosing healthier options than what is available in the university’s dining hall, but this involves careful planning.

Many of the eating tips for the dining hall also apply when cooking at home. (For example, fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables, avoid fried foods, and be careful about social eating.) Plan your meals whenever possible. Creating a plan of what to eat each week makes it easier to develop a grocery list and avoids wasting as much food. Stick to the outer perimeter of the store, where the healthiest foods are; stay away from the center aisles that contain less-healthy items. And avoid shopping when you are hungry—that can lead to impulse purchases you will regret later.

“Living in my own apartment means I am responsible for feeding myself now,” said senior public relations major AJ Abdullah.  “I try to balance my snack purchases by getting fruits. Maintaining an exercise routine keeps me motivated to eat right and take care of my body as well.”