Raise Your GPA, not Your Weight: How to Eat Right in University

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By Abdullah Al Tekreeti

You’re behind on six assignments, and four projects and you have two midterms to study for when suddenly, you hear your stomach growling in defiance; you realize you haven’t eaten in hours.

We’ve all been there. University takes control of your life in a way school never did.  But you don’t need to hire private chefs to keep you fed, hydrated, and healthy during college. There are three very easy ways to maintain a healthy diet throughout your years at university. These three methods of food organization are secondary to a properly organized nutrition and workout plan of course. As a rule, aim to get in proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats; if you’re not sure how to do that, consult a nutritionist. Otherwise, here are three ways in which you can manage your food intake.

One: Money, Money, Money

As unpopular as this approach may be, it’s still a very viable one; so, let’s get it out of the way first. Many healthy restaurants offer customizable meal plan options that can be tailored to your caloric needs. Granted, this may seem a bit too much, considering you’re guaranteeing you will not make your own food, nor eat your mom’s, but it’s simple and effective.

I’ve personally found calorie tracking to be helpful too, but only in moderation as it can get out of hand quickly.

The one downside here is the cost. These meal plans do cost a hefty penny or dirham, but I think they’re well worth it. Consider it this way, you’re more than likely going to spend a ton of money on fast food that is neither cost-effective nor healthy. If it came down to this or nothing – and with the other approaches here it doesn’t have to – I would much rather pay meal plan bills than hospital ones.

Two: I’m fasting, no not like that

If you already forget to eat often, this will be a slight conscious modification that will help you endlessly. This approach advocates for “Intermittent Fasting,” a way of eating where you limit your eating window for six or so hours in the day while fasting for the rest of it.

In this way, you’re conscious of your lack of food throughout the day and look forward to a large meal when you’re finally back home. During your fast, you’re allowed water, black coffee and sugar-free sodas; this guarantees that you remain hydrated. When you break your fast, you eat generally whatever you want, but here’s the trick, due to your meal being later in the day, it’ll likely be at home, where you’ll have homemade healthy food set for you.

The only drawback of this method is that unless you have someone at home making your food, you, unfortunately, must enroll in your own makeshift culinary school where you try blending ingredients like a 13th-century alchemist does with potions.

Working out via resistance training is an incredible stress reliever during chaotic university weeks.

Three: Go Big or Go Home

Personally, this is the way I have used since my freshman year. This approach uses meal preparation to let you get ahead of your hunger with ease. Though you’re still making an effort, planning ahead lets you enjoy food throughout the day without the financial cost of meal plans.

In essence, all you need to do is pick a recipe(s) that you like and cook it in bulk at the beginning of the week. This way you’re able to make healthier choices in advance, while also picking out food that you enjoy and in portions that are suitable for you. This can be done for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

Another way of doing this is preparing the next day’s meal a day prior instead of a week ahead. Frankly, I’ve found that both ways have their own merits depending on how hectic of a work week I have ahead of me.

There are probably hundreds of ways for you to manage your food throughout your university journey, and some are equally viable. But I have found that these three methods are among the easiest and most effective long term as they’re sustainable and even fun at times. Regardless of the method you pick, make sure you fuel your body because university is a long road with no pit stops, so fill up your gas accordingly.