Healthy eating on campus and grocery shopping for one

Is it possible to get through college without gaining weight, feeling sluggish and coming down with a flu every other month? The solution is simple, but not easy if you have no idea what you are doing when it comes to healthy eating and exercise. Check out my article from last week online to help you get started with an exercise routine. This week we will focus on healthy eating.

Why should you eat healthy?

Your body needs healthy foods as ‘fuel’ to be able to physically exert yourself, think and communicate clearly, and for your body to use nutrients to fight disease and other illness/conditions. You can survive on unhealthy foods, but that is all you’ll be doing, rather than working at your most efficient.

How do I eat healthy?

First, try eating when you are hungry, or if you don’t experience physical hunger, eating small meals a few times a day at regular intervals (morning, midday and evening or every three to five hours about an hour after you wake and stop eating two to three hours before bed to allow for the best digestion).

Next, consume whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plant-based fats and oils, lean meat or protein-rich plants. Try your best not to consume processed (manufactured) foods (breads, cereals, pastas, baked goods, soda, sugary drinks, etc.), or as little as possible, and the healthiest you can find (i.e., whole grain bread, no sugar).

What are the main tips for healthy eating on campus/dining out?

• Healthy dining out is not always obvious or convenient so careful planning ahead is required

• Healthy dining out can be expensive so only buy what you need

• Healthy dining out can actually help with portion control because you can’t go for seconds (as long as the first is not over-portioned)

• Choose vegetable and fruits at every meal/snack

• Keep portions to one handful or less for snacks and two handfuls for meals

• Choose more whole foods or a blend of whole foods over processed

• Skip the bread, white pasta, white rice, sugary condiments

• Choose water and herbal tea most often

• Read labels and ditch anything with sugar or ending in ‘-ose’ completely or in the top five ingredients or

• Eat healthy plant based fats and balance fats with fibre

• Include protein, fat and carb options at every meal and at least two at every snack

How do I plan and grocery shop just for myself?

Although it is tedious, when I used to shop for one, I wrote out my meals for about four to five days at a time (including what I would use for leftovers, typically for lunch or added to dinner the next day). Then I would only buy exactly what I needed. I had some staple meals I liked but I always tried to mix up one or two things about them for variety, satiety and appeal. I still do basically the same when preparing for my family, but now we have the freezer and fridge space to make a few meals ahead (i.e., chili), freeze them, and bring them out on the days we are too busy.

It might take you a few times of having unused produce go to waste before you figure out the best way to meal plan. You can also come to the Student Wellness Centre and book nutrition coaching sessions if you are struggling or don’t know where to start (fee required).

Some low-cost, healthy choices that are easy to prepare for one:

• Fruit: apples, oranges, frozen fruit, grapes, in-season fruit, etc.

• Vegetables: baby carrots, broccoli/cauliflower, cakes, peppers, romaine lettuce, radishes, snap peas, canned veggies, frozen veggies

• Hummus/Greek Yogurt Tzatziki, Guacamole (look for avocados on the dollar/ reduced price cart)

• Canned: Veggies, beans, lentils, split peas (packed in water); make sure to rinse these off in a colander

• Rice or puffed cakes, Triscuits (or other no-sugar added cracker) with peanut or nut/seed butter

• Bulk store: raw/natural nuts & seeds, oats, dried fruit, hemp powder, ground flax, dried vegetable soup flakes

If you are looking for more information, check out our Healthy Eating on Campus seminar and our Healthy Grocery Shopping Seminar the week of Sept. 16 to 20. Register on

Karen Nixon-Carroll is the Program Manager at the Student Wellness Centre.