Ramen noodles, popcorn, and poppin' bottles. Sound familiar? Sure it does; these are the staples of many college diets. However, a nutritional trend has recently been gaining ground among students, after already winning over plenty of people in the fitness community and a small army of A-list celebs. I'm talking about paleo.
The Paleolithic diet (AKA: the caveman diet) is based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, consisting chiefly of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excluding dairy or grain products and processed food. What exactly does it mean to "go Paleo?" Is it even possible while you're in college? With some research and reasonable expectations, the paleo lifestyle is doable, even for someone whose life is a series of trips back and forth from the dorm to the cafeteria.
Here is our guide for going Paleo in college.
1. Get Creative in the Dining Hall
Don’t be afraid to mix it up at your “caf”. Often times the healthiest and in this case, paleo-friendly meal, isn’t going to be all in the same place. For instance, you may find some plain chicken from the grill and then you put it over some brown rice from the burrito line, top off with salsa, guacamole, and lettuce and it’s a burrito bowl that didn’t run you $9 at Chipotle.
2. Know What to Avoid
This one can be hard for most people. Your school cafeteria is always filled with unhealthy options at each turn and your friends aren’t always the best at supporting you in your nutritional goals. In order to avoid starving or binging on something you know you shouldn’t, you have to stay focused and know what is and isn’t available. knowing that you’re going to get the meat and veggie option or snack on a piece of fruit will prevent wandering and non-clean eating.
3. Pack Mid-Day Snacks to Avoid the Coffee-Shop Treat.
We’ve all been there before: you sit through boring classes all day and your stomach begins to growl, reminding you of the state of hunger you’re in. It’s tempting to head over to the campus coffee shop and grab a croissant, bagel, or other overpriced treat that will end up being a waste of money and calories. Beat this by always keeping something like an apple, protein bar, almonds, or whatever else you can find from your on-campus dining hall. These natural, more nutrient-dense foods will also keep you fuller for longer to avoid crashing in your next class.
4. When Eating Off-Campus, Know What to Get
Notice we didn’t say “Don’t eat off campus”, this was intentional, because eating out is perfectly okay as long as you know what to get. At a pizza shop, try opting for a salad dressed with oil and vinegar instead of a greasy slice. Even better head to a Mexican restaurant (like Chipotle) and order a cheese-less burrito bowl with carnitas, grilled steak, chicken, or vegetables. It’s important to know that there are paleo options when eating out. It may be more difficult, but it’s very doable.
Always remember that it’s okay to not be 100% perfect with your dieting. You can’t set unrealistic expectations, because they will always leave you feeling discouraged. Do your best. Be as consistent as you can. You may find it hard at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will find it easier and easier.