Eating healthy in college

April 25, 2012 

Easy Mac and ramen might be simple college meals, but they aren't exactly "health food."

Marion Nestle makes a case for eating healthy when you're in college and in your twenties.

It's the lifestyle, not your youth that keeps you trim, she says. Once you get a desk job after college, you become more sedentary and eat out of boredom.

It's what happens afterward that counts. Even the most interesting jobs can require long hours in front of a computer or chained to a desk. Eating out of boredom becomes routine and, once middle age hits, it's all over. The metabolic rate drops with age, and you can't eat the same way you used to without putting on pounds.

The college years are a great time to start behaving in ways that will promote lifetime health.

It can be hard to find the time and space to cook healthy in a dorm or apartment kitchen. Here are some healthy convenience foods I relied in college:

-- Bagged spinach and baby carrots: Whole fresh vegetables take up a lot of space -- not good if all you've got is a mini-fridge. The vegetables can be used fresh in salads or can be cooked and stirred into soups or noodles.

-- Peanut butter: Buy bread and you've got a sandwich for lunch. Buy apples or saltines and you've got a great snack. Stir it into ramen noodles with some soy sauce and you've got a cheap dinner. It's zombie apocalypse food. It will help you survive almost anything. Get the natural, no-stir kind if you can.

-- Individual applesauces: A great way to get fruit in your diet. You don't have to refrigerate them and they don't go bad. Get the kind that's sweetened with fruit juice, not sugar.

-- Eggs: Another incredibly versatile food that cooks quickly.

-- Spaghetti sauce: I grew up in a no Ragu or Chef Boyardee household -- my mom stuck with homemade marinara sauce -- so buying jarred or canned spaghetti sauce always felt sacrilegious. But if you're cooking in a shared kitchen, you don't always have a lot of time to let the sauce simmer. Look for sauce that's low in sodium and doesn't have a lot of preservatives.

Got any other tips for eating healthy in college?

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