A Nutritionist’s Top 5 Tips for Healthy College Eating

Being healthy and in college is definitely doable more than you may think! Think about it, you have the freedom to cook, experiment in the kitchen, and choose wisely – an added perk is a flexible schedule to spend time doing the things you love and staying active.

Not only is eating healthy and staying active important while in college; but also your mental, emotional, and social health as well! In college, many students struggle with depression and let’s face it, it’s a lot of change you may be going through all at once. You’ve moved away from home, you’re in a new environment, living with people you may or may not know very well, meals aren’t cooked for you, you’re studying hard and going to classes, all while trying to balance your personal and social life. Trust me, it’s challenging at times, but if I can make it through successfully, you can to with my top 5 tips on healthy college eating.

5 Tips for Healthy Eating at College

Top 5 Tips for Healthy College Eating:

(1) Dining Halls

    • Know where your dining halls are located on campus, keep a map with you.
    • Research what they have to offer with your meal plans – many have websites with nutritional information now!
    • Call/communicate with the dining halls to inquire if they have specific dietary preferences to meet your needs (vegetarian, gluten free, lower calorie, etc.).
    • Hit the salad bar! Use moderation with the higher calorie toppings such as cheese, croutons, dressings, etc. Load up on the salad greens, fresh fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats!

(2) Be Prepared

    • Keep snacks, meals, and water with you at all times just in case your class or study schedule changes.
    • This will keep you prepared and less likely to reach out for fast food when you’re in a bind.

(3) Dorm Room Kitchen

    • Organize your dorm room so you keep your food items in one area.
    • Pantry Goods } Use large tote or tupperware bins to store “pantry” and dry good items (crackers, oatmeal, quinoa, peanut butter/nut butters, canned chicken/tuna/salmon, trail mix, snack bars, etc.)
    • Fruit Basket } Use a large bin or basket filled with fresh fruit from the dining halls.
    • Toaster oven } perfect for toasting, baking, and reheating.
    • Mini-fridge } keep the necessities on a weekly basis such as a type of milk, your smoothies (wink, wink), vegetables, and any leftovers you may have!
    • Travel size blender } perfect for easy cleaning in the community kitchen sink to make all your smoothies!
    • Microwave } make things from mug cakes, oatmeal, reheating food, scrambled eggs, quinoa, and more just in the microwave.
    • Utensils } keep paper plates, napkins, paper towels, wipes, tupperware, disposable or these reusable eating utensils, tea mug, travel mugs, and plastic bowls and cups.

(4) 80/20 rule

    • Aim for having 80% of your diet be from whole real food sources with minimal processing and the remaining 20% from processed foods or less healthy foods/treats.
    • This is a great way to learn balance and flexibility without be too rigid about your eating habits. Enjoy!

(5) Stay Active/Involved!

    • Get involved with your wellness center or recreation center.
    • Sign up for co-ed sports teams for fun.

When dining out on campus, remember that you always have the choice, there will always be something that is a “better” option for you to choose.

A couple other resources that you may enjoy is a one-on-one student bundle/nutrition consultation with me to develop a meal and fitness plan. The Meal Planning 101 tip sheets, Beach Babe Guide, and the Healthy Snack tip sheets all can be downloaded at the Nutrition Stripped Shop!

Also check here for a FREE downloadable guide!


McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN is an internationally known dietitian/nutritionist and the creator of Nutrition Stripped, a plant-centric whole foods lifestyle and blog. McKel shares nourishing and delicious recipes weekly while inspiring her readers to take their health to the next level. McKel coaches privately with women all over the world bringing them to optimal wellness with her nutrition lifestyle protocol, support, and expertise.

Get social with McKel // Nutrition Stripped, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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