Ramen noodles, cases of beer, late night Jimmy John's runs, pizza slices and cafeteria food isn't the ideal diet, but for many college students, the aforementioned foods and drinks constitute an affordable one. While many college students who are always on-the-go may believe that their exercise and daily activity may be enough to keep the pounds away, registered dietitian Jim White believes otherwise.
"[Nutrition} is definitely the most important thing you can do for weight loss," White told 13News Now, acknowledging that healthy eating is a large part of weight loss. "[Little food items] turn into hundreds and hundreds of calories and it might not seem like a lot, but throughout the week, it's going to end up like one pound of body fat."
For college students, the cheap, quick decision isn't always the healthiest decision. So how can students eat healthy — without spending too much money?
"My biggest advice is to not start dieting when you get to college," registered dietitian Ryan Andrews told BuzzFeed Life. Andrews is a coach at Precision Nutrition, a private nutrition coaching company in Canada. "It's best to take a whole food approach and focus on adding fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and good fats."
"You should still eat as little processed foods as possible, but with a whole food approach you don't have to worry as much about calories and extra bad stuff because you're hitting all the nutritious food groups and getting the vitamins and minerals you need," Andrews continued.
This could mean taking a different approach to choosing foods in the campus cafeteria. Choosing greener options, like fruits and vegetables, and taking them to go for the day can be a viable option. "Take the fruit!" Chelsea Hunter, an health coach based in Atlanta, told Teen Vogue. "Always, always take the fruit, even if you don't think you want it." Hunter also encouraged college students to create a daily food routine, starting from breakfast, to dinnertime, to an occasional late-night snack.
But knowing how to handle money will make eating healthier a more reasonable challenge. Money Crashers, a personal finance blog, offers the following advice for college students:
1. Determine the amount of money you have coming in each month.
2. Calculate how much money you have going out each month for fixed expenses, such as rent. If your expenses fluctuate because tuition is due twice a year, spread the amount evenly across all months, and don't spend what you set aside for tuition.
3. Subtract your expenses from your income. What remains is the money you have to spend on non-fixed expenses, such as food, clothing, and entertainment.
4. Take the amount of spending money you have and designate an amount that is reasonable for food, taking into consideration all the other things you will need and want to buy each month.
5. In the months that follow, only spend the amount you have budgeted for food. If the amount is insufficient, adjust it accordingly. To ensure that you do not spend over your budgeted amount, try using the envelope budgeting system.
Students shouldn't expect to become nutrition wizards, because universities often have free pizza and other food for students at campus events, which can be a welcome free meal. However, taking care of the body is just as important as getting a 4.0.