7 Golden Rules for Eating Healthy in College

Yes, it's possible to avoid the freshman 15

College is a liberating experience. You're on your own for the first time, making decisions on everything from "curfew" to laundry frequency to what counts as a meal. You could eat potato chips every hour on the hour, and no one could tell you no. But with a few simple tips, it's actually easy to lead a healthy lifestyle—and, no, you won't be tested on this.  

① Eat the rainbow. 

Following a colorful diet is a simple (and visual) guide to eating healthy, especially when faced with a self-service dining hall. Rather than feel overwhelmed by options, fill your plate with a colorful array of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.  

② BYO lunch.    

Healthy options usually fall on the expensive side of the lunch price range. By packing your own lunch, you have full control over both how healthy your meal is and how much it costs. Consider investing in creative containers to make packing your lunch feel more like a game of Legos.

③ Drink more.  

No, we don't mean alcohol. Upping your fluid intake (think water, tea, green juice) is one way to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.

④ Remember, alcohol is caloric.

The biggest contributor to the freshman 15 often isn't one too many bags of chips: It's calories from alcohol. We're not saying you have to go dry, but refraining from heavily drinking on a regular basis will help your overall health goals. And don't fall prey to that myth about vodka being calorie free either.

⑤ Stock up on healthy foods.

It's easier to avoid temptation (read: cookies) when it's out of sight, out of mind. So on your next Trader Joe's run, fill your cart with fresh fruits, granola bars, yogurts and protein-rich trail mixes.

⑥ Eat foods you actually like.  

Forcing yourself to eat kale chips just for the health of it will end up stamping healthy eating with an unpleasant cognitive badge. Instead, choose only the healthy foods you get excited about.  

⑦ Always carry snacks. 

Overeating can occur when you haven't eaten for a while, so that when you do, anything is fair game. Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand to stave off the hangry creature inside us all, even if you have to snag an apple or two from the dining hall.