Tips on Eating Healthy and Cooking with Your Roommate

By Lorena Roberts

When you're in college, your health is often the last thing on your mind, especially when it comes to what you're eating. That's why the "freshman fifteen" is such a common saying - so many students start college and begin gaining weight. By the end of their freshman year, they're fifteen pounds heavier than they were when they graduated from high school.

Starting college brings on all kinds of stressors - including your classes, your social circle, and your eating habits. With limited cooking experience, many college freshmen end up snacking on junk food while pulling all-nighters, visiting the all-you-can-eat dining hall three times per day, and binge-eating in their dorm room on multiple occasions. These can all be contributing factors to gaining weight while you're in college -- which is rarely what any college freshman wants.

So as you continue on your college journey, remember that your eating habits directly impact your health. Maybe you're inclined to say, "I don't know how to cook," and maybe your cooking abilities include things like Ramen noodles and microwavable popcorn -- forget healthy. But there are definitely ways to learn how to cook healthier options, and as you progress through your college journey, you'll likely find yourself needing to create healthier options in your diet.

 Student Roommates: Tips on Eating Healthy and Cooking with Your Roommate

Living with roommates can definitely be tough. But one of the greatest parts of living with people is the community it gives you. And with communities come food. You probably aren't the only one looking for ways to eat healthier. It's likely that your roommates need healthier options, too. Here are some tips for you and your roommate to start eating (and cooking!) healthier.

1. Make a plan and hold each other accountable.

It might be hard to go "cold turkey" all at once. Instead, you might want to consider making a deal with your roommate to cook healthy 2-3 nights per week. You can slowly start increasing this plan, and eventually, you'll be eating healthy all the time. It's tough to go from eating out all the time to always cooking at home. Avoid setting yourself up for failure and set attainable goals. You'll be happier with yourself in the end.

2. Carve out time for grocery shopping and meal planning every week.

When you don't set aside time to grocery shop and plan your meals, you're setting yourself up for failure. If you're truly motivated to start eating healthier, make sure you are intentional about the planning it requires. Eating healthy meals you have to be disciplined. Don't allow yourself to run to the dining hall at 9pm, looking for the "feel good" foods.

3. Cook things you actually enjoy.

Don't force yourself to start liking avocados if you hate them. Try recipes that will challenge your tase buds without making you hate to eat. The reason we crave junk food is because it tastes delicious. Start allowing yourself to crave the healthy stuff.

Roommate Tips: Tips on Eating Healthy and Cooking with Your Roommate

4. Prep your meals ahead of time.

Avoid the last minute "I'm starving" phase of college by planning out your meals and prepping them ahead of time. When I was in college, I used to meal prep on Sunday afternoons. You and your roommate could easily spend some time making your meals for the week, so when it comes time to eat dinner or grab something between classes, you already have a plan. You'll be less likely to grab a bag of chips and a soda if you've already made a plan and prepped food for this specific scenario.

5. Don't even keep junk food in your living space.

If you don't have it available to you, you'll be less likely to snack on it. Instead, push yourself to only buy foods from the store that are healthy. Switch out your chips for easy snacking foods (like blueberries), and instead of keeping soda in your fridge, try vitamin waters. Maintaining healthy options at home is half the battle.

It's tough to eat healthy while you're in college - no one said it was easy! But you and your roommate can do it if you work together. Encourage each other. Spend time together. Plan and prep your meals with the goal of eating healthier in mind. Then you can always add in walking or biking to class, a nightly gym or yoga routine, and walks together on the weekends. Being healthy in college sounds like it'll come naturally, but you truly have to be disciplined about making yourself a plan.

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