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What is the purpose of eating nutritious food? Indeed, you’ll look good. But while vanity as a motivator is perfectly acceptable, making your insides beautifully healthy is even more important, especially for college students. By fueling your body with the appropriate nutrients, you’ll have plenty of energy – to stay awake in class, study for tests, and spend time with friends. Remember, you’re in school to expand your mind and social circle, not your waistline.

Healthy translates into success. The healthier you are, the more get-up-and-go you’ll have to get up and go to your early-morning classes. After all, how much can you learn from the comfort of your bed at 8 in the morning when instead you should be at your psych lecture across campus? The optimum way to acquire the necessary vitality for success is from clean eating.

Clean eating means opting for foods with fewer preservatives and unnatural sugars. The ingredients for clean eating are the basics: fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, water, and vitamins.

College is the perfect time to start (or continue) focusing on nutrition. If you’re on a meal plan, you have someone preparing various healthful foods for you every day and for almost every meal, depending on which plan you’ve selected. If you’re buying your groceries, you – not your parents – are in control of what you eat. Take that power to choose your food and use it for the good of your body. Choose clean foods.

Just because the clean eating menu is void of excess salt and sugar, this does not mean that you can never again indulge in your favorite snacks. Simply opt for single servings. You’ll consume fewer calories but still quench your junk food craving. After all, who keeps track of the number of chips they’re eating when enjoying the jumbo-sized bag of Doritos? And exactly how many of those broken pieces at the bottom equal one chip?

Beware of caffeine. Your average “energy-boosting” cup of joe has no benefits. While you may believe coffee and soda are effective study aids, they’re anything but that! Caffeine causes restlessness and irritability, which make sitting still to read for your Greek civilization class almost impossible. You may be stressed out about passing your physics exam, but gulping a liter or two of Coke will only aggravate your stress since caffeine also causes anxiety. Caffeine, which is a drug, indeed compromises your emotional and mental states. And because it is often accompanied by sugar and/or cream in a hot beverage and massive amounts of sugar in the form of cola, your physique will be compromised as well. Just say no to this drug. (And read Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of Caffeine by Stephen Cherniske.)

Finally, take a nutrition class. Not only will you learn more about food, but nutritious noshing will be on your mind as well. Hopefully, this will inspire you in the dining hall to pass on the banana split and choose just the banana instead – which, by the way, makes you look good.

CHECKLIST – Tips for Avoiding the Freshman 15

  • Eat Fruits.
    • Add fruit to your cereal.
    • Drink orange juice for vitamin C.
  • Eat vegetables.
    • Munch on baby carrots and celery sticks between classes.
  • Eat protein.
    • Have red meat once a week. In addition to protein, it’s also a great source of iron.
    • Use egg whites or Egg Beaters for your breakfast omelet.
    • Have a handful of nuts – just a handful, though.
  • Eat whole grains.
    • When consuming carbohydrates, opt for dark (unrefined) instead of light (refined). Eat wheat bread instead of white bread, brown rice instead of white rice, and sweet potatoes rather than the run-of-the-mill variety.
  • Take a multivitamin daily.
    • Try children’s chewables if “adult” vitamins bother your stomach.
  • When eating junk food, limit your portions.
    • Select single servings.
    • Never, ever choose the jumbo- or king-sized portions.
  • Limit caffeine intake. To stay alert while studying, try the following techniques:
    • Pace as you read.
    • Read aloud.
    • Study in a group.
    • Eat green apples. The tart taste and crunchiness keep your senses on their toes.
    • Drink plenty of water. Making trips to the bathroom relieves monotony and burns calories.

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