How to Eat Clean on a College Campus

This guide on How to Eat Clean on a College Campus will help you avoid the “Freshman 15!”

It can be extremely hard to maintain healthy eating habits in college, trust me, I’ve been there. I have a healthy eating blog and I, too, still struggled to make good choices from time to time. However, after 4 years, I was able to find creative ways to still truly enjoy my food while feeding my body the most nutritious foods available.

How to Eat Clean on a College Campus

With a little know-how and creativity, you too can eat clean even in an all you can eat cafeteria, and with very limited appliances in your dorm. Here are some tips I’ve implemented into my own life that are sure to help you too, eat a wholesome diet on campus without having to make major sacrifices.

How to Eat Clean on a College Campus

1. Eat breakfast in your dorm room: Of all meals to eat and prepare in your room, breakfast is by far the easiest. If you’re anything like the average college kid, you’re probably in a rush trying to head out the door, but before you reach for those pop-tarts and spike your blood sugar through the roof, consider these super quick healthy alternatives: 10 Delicious Grab-N-Go Breakfasts.

2. Make a meal out of the salad bar: Luckily, cafeteria salad bars are often jam-packed with all kinds of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and legumes. So take advantage of it and transform your side salad into a meal with these 5 easy steps:

  • Start with your greens as a base. Romaine, mixed greens, spinach, or any other type of lettuce are perfect foundations for your meal.
  • Add some type of lean protein. Chicken, egg, ham, turkey, or tofu will all provide you will plenty of filling and muscle repairing protein.
  • Add a healthy fat source. Foods rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as nuts, avocado, olives, and seeds such as chia or sunflower seeds, are needed in your diet in order for your body to function properly. Still, resist the urge to go crazy with them since fat grams contain two times the calories of both protein and carbohydrates.
  • Add a variety of raw fruits and vegetables. Cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, and mandarin oranges, just to name a few, all add great nutrients and flavor to your salad. Don’t be shy with these; pile them on!
  • Top it with a small amount of dressing. Vinaigrettes and oil and vinegar based dressings are the most natural, so stick to those. Shun creamy dressings such as caesar and ranch as those contain more processed calories, chemicals and fat than they’re worth.

3. Avoid any foods with heavy sauces: Sauces such as gravy, Alfredo sauce, barbecue sauce, hollandaise, or cheesy sauces are incredibly delicious, but they’re also almost always very high in calories, chemicals and sodium. Do your arteries a favor and pick broth based or tomato based sauces instead, such as marinara. You’ll get lots of flavor for far fewer grams the not so good stuff.
4. Be picky about how your food is prepared: Avoid anything fried, and choose foods that have been steamed, baked, broiled, grilled, or roasted instead; these cooking techniques traditionally use way less fat.

5. Add flavor to your food by using naturally low-calorie condiments: Instead of heavy sauces, flavor your food with lemon juice, hot sauce, soy sauce, vinegars, mustard, salsa, or herbs.

Implement these strategies into your diet, and both your taste buds and your body will thank you.

Need help with a small grocery list for a small, dorm room fridge? Check out this Clean Eating Dorm Room Shopping List!

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  1. Hi,
    I write a weekly blog for our Student Health Center at Hiram College. May I share your blog post on how to eat clean on a college campus with the link to your site?

    Marjie Billock

  2. Amazing ideas. I’m def trying some of These. I’ll Begin tomorrow with the sweet potato

    Thanks for sharing!!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Yamir – Fantastic! I hope you enjoy it! 🙂