After attending college for two semesters, I’ve noticed a certain trend among my fellow scholars.  Seemingly, they don’t know how to eat well. Although vending machines are easily accessible and junk food found in convenience stores is cheap, healthy eating is just as accessible as unhealthy eating. Here are a few ways to stay healthy (and avoid gaining extra pounds) while attending your establishment of higher learning:

  • Use Moderation

I know you don’t want to give up the junk food just yet, so take a slow pace. Instead of two cans or more of soda pop a day, try just one and whenever you’re thirsty drink some water. I often see college students carrying around water bottles all day which is a good habit to have. So take that first step and trade your two bags of potato chips for one, and a stainless steel water bottle for your venti-sized Starbucks cup.

  • Look for Cheap, Healthy Alternatives

Even though candy bars are cheap, they don’t make you feel full and they’re full of sugars that may cause you to doze off during class. Try looking for whole grain or granola bars that contain less sugar. Believe it or not you can often find some that are just as cheap as the sugary snacks, but not as bad for you. Also, sandwich shops like Subway have great deals for veggie sandwiches. Just spring for the “light” mayonnaise, lose the potato chips or go for baked chips and grab a bottle of water instead of soda pop.

  • Buy Raw Food

Although some health or power bars are good, they don’t provide some of those natural nutrients your body was made to process. Raw foods such as fruits and vegetables are always the best choices. I know you may claim you’re a poor, starving, college student, but have you really looked at your options? Check the grocery stores in your area for sales on produce. Sometimes for six dollars you can have all your snacks for a week in a big bag of apples, oranges, or pears. Plus fruits keep you full longer than energy bars, candy, or potato chips. Depending on where your school is located, you may be able to check out a local farmers market.  Additionally, when you drop by the food court or cafeteria grab a salad instead of pizza or consider other healthy alternatives.

  • Drink Water

I mentioned before that you should carry a water bottle around instead of coffee, but I must mention it again since water is so essential to staying healthy. Not only does water hydrate you, it plays an important role in your body’s daily processes.

By drinking water you avoid all the sugar and caffeine in other drinks. You may drink fruit juice, but fresh juice is the best for you since it hasn’t been pasteurized and therefore retains its nutrients. However, remember that juice has many calories and drinking that along with eating could cause a weight gain. Having juice as a replacement for a snack could help you get nutrients, but avoid adding calories to a full meal.

Naturally don’t forget to exercise daily, or if you’re swamped with work jog to classes instead of just walking. Not only will you burn calories, but you’ll finally get to class on time!

Carmen Smith is a freshman and at Virginia Commonwealth University. She dreams of a career in the arts and has recently applied to the VCU School of the Arts where she plans to study graphic design. As a hobby, she enjoys creating various types of art. She also enjoys learning about her Christian faith, listening to popular Korean music, learning about Korean culture and language, studying French, singing, learning about American politics and following the political developments of the day.