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Back to School Part 2: How to Eat Well in College

Categories: Nutrition, Well-being
people in restaurant

By Zoe Smith, UCF College Student
Part 2 of 3:  A college student’s perspective for surviving and thriving!

Hello again! It’s Zoe from UCF, back for Part 2, how to eat well as a college student! If you missed part 1, follow this link and check out my tips for staying emotionally healthy and relatively sane in college. Otherwise, keep reading as I share my insight for maintaining–and improving–your emotional, physical, and nutritional needs so that during your first year, the “freshman 15” is the last thing you’re worried about!

‘Aight! I got a question for you. What’s more important than all of the projects and work you produce in college? It’s the produce you are putting inside your body!

Good Eating Habits

According to Best Colleges, “A steady diet of pizza and cheeseburgers can lead to more than just a few extra pounds: poor eating is also associated with lower grades, susceptibility to illness, and increased fatigue. Other side effects include a higher risk of depression, anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, menstrual problems, and sleep disturbances.”

And we know this! Allied Academies conducted a study that showed college students KNOW about processed foods, additives, and how bad soda and fast food are for their health. We don’t need more education on what foods are good and what foods are bad for us. What we need is accessibility to healthy options.

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The Difficulty of Making Healthy Choices

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The problem college students face when it comes to good nutrition is limited funds and limited time. Yes, healthy options are out there but they oftentimes aren’t accessible. It’s difficult to have a healthy and nutritious diet when you are dependent on a variety of factors such as:

  • Relying on public transportation to get to the store
  • Living paycheck to paycheck
  • Having a hectic class or work schedule
  • Having access to a kitchen, stove, microwave, or mini fridge

You’ve Got More Options Than You Know

So what got me through my first year of college? These were my tried and trues:

  • PB&J roll ups with flour tortilla
  • Those tuna salad lunch kits.
  • Whatever fruit is on sale at your grocery store. It’s usually in season and will taste the best.
  • A bag of salad greens, or an already made salad. The premade salad will be more expensive, but if it’s the difference between the food going bad or not, buy the kit.
  • One big $5 canister of old-fashioned rolled oats is breakfast for a month.
  • For more snack and meal ideas on the cheap check out this site.

Start to see your choices as opportunity vs. cost situations. Sure, one thing might be cheaper than another in terms of DOLLARS but what is that meal option going to cost you in terms of your TIME to prep it, the space available in your fridge, and will it expire before you can finish it?

Nutritional Resources


My final piece of advice… You’re in college. Eating out tends to not only be an easy choice, but a social choice. Lots of people enjoy grabbing a meal together as a way to bond and hang out outside of classes. You don’t have to turn down your friends all the time if money is tight or you’re trying to eat well. Just get a drink or a small appetizer–or split a meal with one of your friends! And if you want a real cash-money move, learn how to make a few recipes and host your friends, or throw a pot luck and have them bring food to you instead of going out! See you round! ~ Zoe

zoe smith

About the Author

Zoe Smith is a UCF student studying International and Global Studies and Nonprofit Management. She is entering her fourth year at the University this fall and has formerly served as a peer health advocate through UCF’s Wellness and Health Promotion Services in addition to interning with the Healthy West Orange team this past summer.

Come back next Friday for Part 3 – navigating fitness!

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