Avoid the Freshman 20 (Part One)
In your first year of college, you’ll need these simple tips…
Next to sleeping, eating is probably one of the most important things on your daily agenda. But, when you begin life away from home (where someone else may have provided three square meals a day), your eating habits could change drastically. The result–the dreaded “freshman 15″–which recently has been updated to the “freshman 20″, are added pounds you may not want.
There are sane ways to prevent the added pounds which are usually a combination of: improper eating, stress and lack of exercise, that anyone can learn. In this post, I’ll be concentrating on the basics of proper eating by starting with where and how to shop.
The Art of Grocery Shopping
In an effort to save money and time, students have relied on canned, instant, or fast foods to satisfy hunger. In fact, I think there has been enough Top Ramen consumed at colleges in the U.S. to make the CEO of that company a very wealthy person! While these meals are easy to prepare and cheap, you can be jeopardizing your health if you rely on them too often. It’s possible to save money and eat healthfully at the same time, all it takes is a little planning and creativity.
First, if you’re new to your college town, take some time to get acquainted. Google the grocery stores, health food stores and farmers markets nearby. Don’t bypass the smaller “mom and pop” stores for the big chain stores, they can offer items some of the chains do not. While discount grocery stores are great for saving money, you’ll need to take extra care monitoring the expiration dates and where things originate from. Next, go and collect weekly flyers from these stores, take a few minutes while you’re there to look at the quality of the produce, meat, fish and poultry. Is the store well-stocked? Does the fish smell too “fishy”? Do they offer organic produce?
Now do some comparison shopping. Notice the stores that offer coupons in their flyers, or weekly sales on items you usually eat, see where you’ll save the most but also get quality. Find out if you need a savings card to take advantage of what’s on sale. Make a shopping list and mark on the weekly flyers what looks good, bring both with you when you shop and don’t forget the coupons you can obtain online!
Things You Should Never Do
At the top of the list is: never go grocery shopping hungry–ever! Studies have shown shoppers who wandered down isles with their stomachs growling bought more food than they had planned–most of which was junk foods. Always go well-fed! Another study showed you shouldn’t pay with plastic, those who did spent more and bought more junk foods.
Don’t go without a list and a flyer. Buy only what’s on your list and enough fresh fruit and vegetables for the week, buying more, you set yourself up to waste food–and that’s a waste of money.
Next, never buy meat, fish or poultry from a place where the fish smells bad, the meat and poultry have a strange color, or flies are in the cases. Fish should not be purchased if more than a day past delivery, meat and poultry have expiration dates or “freeze by” dates posted on them–don’t buy if past those dates.
Don’t purchase items which are in containers that are torn, bulging or dented, they’re probably contaminated. Always check labels for expiration dates, don’t purchase anything past the date on the label.
Don’t be fooled by terminology. Just because something says “Natural” doesn’t always mean it’s organic. Certified organic food products and fruits and vegetables, must have the little seal “USDA Organic” on them, if they don’t they’re probably not organic.
Bypass fruits with holes or big bruises on them and veggies that are limp. Buy loose produce, not pre-wrapped or bagged, this way you can choose what you want. Don’t buy produce shipped in from other countries, those will not have as much taste or shelf life. Instead, try to buy local and organic. In doing this, you are boosting the local economy while eating more nutritious foods.
Make it Fun!
Shop with friends and classmates interested in eating healthy and saving money. Learn from each other where the best organic apples can be bought on sale, or what bakery has unique Artisan breads, and which local farmer grows the delicious heirloom tomatoes. By swapping information, you educate each other and avoid making mistakes which could cost you in money and pounds.
When you have time, take a drive out to the country after researching rural stands online which offer local honey, homemade organic berry pies (make these a treat, not an everyday habit!), or “All You Can Pick” fruits and veggies. Take a cooler with some ice to keep what you buy cold.
And if you’re still craving Top Ramen, try adding chopped carrots, spinach, a boiled egg or chicken, just to name a few healthy additions. Also, to cut the high sodium (salt) content, use only half of the flavor pack provided.
See my next blog, “Avoid the Freshman 20 (Part Two)”, where I’ll discuss buying and preparing food and more.
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