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Clean Eating in College—It Is Possible!
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Clean Eating in College—It Is Possible!


Rowan Tuffs

The transition from walking the long halls of your high school to taking that first step onto your college campus as a new student is an experience that is both exciting and anxiety-inducing. If you made the decision to attend a school far from home, you have the added bonus of personal freedom via dorm living. Newfound independence, here we come!

All the glories of no longer living at home do come at a cost, however. Now that you’re an independent adult capable of living on their own (or with a roommate), you will soon realize how much work goes into providing for yourself, even when it comes to eating healthy. 

Let’s explore some options available to you on campus to ensure you can still eat clean while earning your degree! 

Get Acquainted With the Dining Hall

Welcome to the sea of options waiting for you at the university dining hall! You’ll be ecstatic to discover all of the choices available to quell your hunger and satisfy your taste buds. From greasy pizza to sickeningly sweet ice cream, there’s an endless buffet of mouth-watering selections to pick from. 

The Salad Bar is Your Friend

The barren wasteland that is the salad bar may not seem all that appealing to the average student, but the value of it cannot be stressed enough. However, when you’re surrounded by an excess of carbs, fats, and sugar, the very thought of having a salad is unlikely to pass through your head at all!

But what if you, just for a second, let your mind linger on that possibility? Perhaps even allow yourself to fantasize about putting together a small salad to have as a side to your main course? If you can do that, then we might be getting somewhere after all. And don’t worry, a salad doesn’t have to be bland and unfulfilling. You just need to put some thought into your dish!

Instead of opting for your run of the mill iceberg lettuce, try to spice up your variety of greens with different options, such as spinach and kale. Then be sure to add a bunch of flavorful toppings to the mix; seeds, nuts, and fruits are great options that are sure to give your salad a delicious, protein-packed boost. Also, try not to overdo it on the dressing. A light coating of vinaigrette will go a long way, so there’s no need to drench your salad in ranch.  

Pans of food at a self-serve buffet
Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new at your university’s dining hall.

It’s All About Balance

A salad alone is not going to keep you properly sustained as you run around campus living out your busy student life that demands so much of you, physically and mentally. If you want to subdue your hunger, you will need to consume more than spinach and nuts. 

Balanced meals are your best ally when it comes to giving you the fuel you need to get through your day with optimal productivity. Try putting together a plate that includes a fat, a protein, and a carb option. 

Clean eating does not have to mean limited food choices, even in a college dining hall. If you’re curious about what your options may be, never be afraid to ask for clarification from the kitchen staff. Many universities are becoming very transparent about the nutritional information and ingredients found in their food, and as a diner in the cafeteria it is your right to know what you’re putting in your body.  

It’s in your best interest to avoid fried foods in general. Opt for choices that are baked, steamed, grilled, or roasted instead. Some fat in your diet is healthy, but too much is going to throw off your balanced meal. 

No Kitchen Dorm Living

Simple is best when it comes to your dorm pantry. Even if you regularly visit the dining hall for your meals, there will likely be times where you need to rely on your own stock of food to pacify your hunger. That’s why it’s important to have access to easy, convenient options that work for both your budget and appetite. 

A college-age young man eats a slice of pizza while on his laptop
Clean eating doesn’t mean you can’t have delicious meals – you just need to put some thought into what goes in your mouth.

Keep Healthy Snacks On Hand

Sure, pop-tarts and candy bars are certainly hassle-free snacks that require minimal effort on your part, but they aren’t gonna do much for you in the nutrition department. Be sure to keep your dorm stocked up with healthy foods that are simple and satisfying, which may mean picking up some apples and granola bars on your next grocery trip. 

It’s important to have a diverse selection of snacks to munch on so you never grow bored of eating the same thing. Having variety in life is good, and it can become even better if you make health-conscious decisions regarding the types of snacks you keep on hand. 

If you’re looking for an exciting new snack to add to your pantry, give Simple Botanics Squares a try! They’re healthy, packed with tons of nutrients, and extremely convenient for the busy college student.  

The Beast that is Takeout 

Try not to rely on takeout to get you through the semester. As a busy college student, it is inevitable that there will be times where you will need to call on fast food to help out. Life gets hectic, dining halls close, you run out of snacks in your dorm – that’s just a part of life, so don’t beat yourself up over the occasional burger. 

However, ordering takeout every night simply because you are too lazy to put together your own meals is neither healthy nor financially sustainable. Takeout is expensive, and college students tend to have a limited income, so don’t drain your bank account because you’re craving a burrito from a local Mexican joint. 

Following a clean diet also means eliminating processed foods where you can, so overdoing it on fast food will certainly leave a negative impact on your health.   

A woman holding packaged Simple Botanics Squares
Stocking up on healthy snacks will save you money down the line. Image courtesy of Simple Botanics

College Should Be an Experience Worth Remembering

When all is said and done, you should be able to look back on your years as an undergraduate student with fondness. Have fun while transitioning to life on campus, and make good decisions while you do. 

Be sure to prioritize your studies and your wellness. Both are crucial parts of yourself that will matter in the long run, so nourish your mind and body by cracking open those books and eating healthy meals. You’ll be glad you did. 

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