One of the biggest adjustments I face each semester after returning to campus from an academic break is re-adapting to dining hall food. Being raised in a household with healthy home-cooked meals, as well as being an athlete the majority of my life taught me to be conscious of what foods I am consuming to fuel my body in the best way possible. The majority of the stations at dining halls at my university offer comfort food, with minimal fresh, non-processed options. Here is how I try and maintain a healthy diet without eating the exact same thing each day:
- Breakfast: While I’ve never been a big breakfast eater, it is important to fuel my body with something before a busy day. I like to munch on a granola bar in-route to my morning classes, with a large cup of coffee with extra Half and Half to help wake me up!
- Lunch: After a few hours of morning classes and a workout, I’m usually pretty hungry when lunchtime rolls around. I like to make a panini sandwich on wheat bread with my current favorite toppings: red pepper hummus, fresh spinach leaves, provolone cheese and tomato. I usually complete the meal with a large glass of water and a big bowl of fruit. The sandwich is loaded with lots of protein to keep me full, and it’s always important to stay hydrated!
- Snack Time: I love mixing peanut butter, some blueberries and greek yogurt in a bowl for a protein and antioxidant-rich pick-me-up, as well as munching on a protein bar to keep me full until dinnertime. If I have more time, I love to make smoothies with chocolate almond milk, peanut butter, and a banana to satisfy my chocolate craving!
- Dinner: After a long day, it’s important to eat a big and balanced dinner to re-charge for a few more hours of extracurricular meetings, a work shift, and homework assignments. I usually crave a large salad loaded with fruits and veggies, some form of protein and carbohydrates to keep my energy levels up, complimented with another large glass of ice water!
Featured above: Fresh spinach, brown rice, carrots, strawberries, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, grilled chicken, topped with balsamic vinaigrette dressing!
A few notes…
- I am NOT in any way a professional dietician, nor do I have any professional training or experience in the health and fitness fields. I’m just a gal sharing what works best for me in the hope that I can provide some inspiration to other college students!
- HYDRATION IS KEY. I always carry a water bottle with me and try to make a conscious effort to keep drinking water. I have found that I just feel better overall if I’m staying hydrated.
- Personally, I’ve found that eating healthier keeps me more energized, full and focused. However, I try not to let my dietary habits get in the way of living. There are times that I eat a burger and fries, greasy pizza, or finish a whole pint of ice cream by myself (a feat I accomplished for the first time my Freshman year of college), and that is completely ok!! IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE.