When students are first attempting to cook new foods, how should they get started?
Take a few minutes to think about what foods you like and don't like. Buying foods you don't like means you're probably just going to be wasting money. If you'd like to start cooking with a new food, buy the smallest size you can first to see if you like the taste before you invest in buying a larger amount.
Also, refer to some sources! Learning from the pros doesn't just have to take place in the classroom. If your mom is a good cook, definitely ask her for some tips first.
What are some common healthy eating myths or mistakes that students make when learning how to cook in small spaces like dorms?
Thinking you're going to change 100% of your diet immediately. I totally get it—you want to be 100% healthy now, but buying too many groceries and too many kitchen supplies is often wasteful. Stick with buying only the basics when you're first getting a handle on making food for yourself. You can always buy the fancy appliances later if need be.
Having too much snack food available is another common mistake. Stocking up on tons of non-perishable food is not necessarily a good thing to do. We tend to lose self-control, so when you're studying late at night and have an endless supply of graham crackers or peanut butter, you can risk overeating.
How can students stay on track with healthy eating, especially with busy schedules, tempting nights out and college stresses?
Tracking what you're eating with an app like Lose It or My Fitness Pal is an excellent way to understand what foods keep you full and what foods are wasteful. You definitely don't have to track every day, but tracking is one of the best educational tools that is not only easy to use, but is also free!
Planning ahead is also key. Either buying pre-packaged single servings of snacks for late night studying or creating single serving portions yourself is one of the best things you can do to stay on track with portion size and avoiding overeating. Look in the grocery store for 1 to 1.5-ounce packages of nuts, individual cups of yogurt or string cheese.
What additional advice do you have for college students looking to eat in and stay healthy while in school?
You probably have more resources at your hands than you realize. Typically, there’s a dietitian on staff at every college’s health clinic you can meet for free with your college health insurance. Also, there are often dietitians and health coaches on staff at university cafeterias who can help you navigate the food scene, whether you have a specific food allergy or just want to get a better picture of what’s available on campus.