Binge now and pay later: 3 ways to keep college eating from running amok

Posted October 27, 2016

When $5 pizza, ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches on delicious white bread are so cheap, easy and fast, why would a busy — and most likely poor — college student need anything else? Throw in hamburgers, shakes and Chinese food on the go, or free rein on anything else at the all-you-can-eat dorm cafeteria, and college is a delicious experience, right? This on-the-go eating style around school and part-time jobs may result in a few extra pounds here and there, but nothing too horrible. So why change anything?

The simple answer is that a few pounds quickly turn into a lot of pounds, and poor eating habits eventually turn into a seriously bad eating lifestyle. A bad eating lifestyle affects body and mind. What we eat determines how we feel about ourselves, how we see ourselves, and unfortunately, how others see us. So what is the solution for a poor college student who wants to eat healthy and enjoy college but needs to keep a healthy eating lifestyle simple to match a crazy schedule? Here are my recommendations:

1. Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting may sound intense and difficult to follow, but it is absolutely easy, will match a crazy college schedule, and will keep the extra fat off.

What is intermittent fasting? It is actually an eating schedule, not a diet.

  • Eat for 8 hours (men) or 10 hours (women) a day
  • Fast for 14 hours (women) or 16 hours (men) a day
You can drink water during your fasting period but you do not eat any calories.

This isn’t really about eating less as much as it is about changing your eating schedule. So, for example, a man doing this program may eat from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and still eat the required daily calories. A women would eat from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. A healthy lifestyle involves a healthy gut, and intermittent fasting can help with that.

How does this help? You might still consume a similar number of calories, but as microbiologist Kiran Krishnan recently wrote in the Silver Fern Elevated Plan, “Some beneficial bacteria only grow and thrive when you’re fasting.” Studies show that bacteria in your gut actually dictates whether you’re obese or skinny, with the beneficial bacteria helping to keep the weight off long-term. That’s a good enough reason for me to fast.

2. Drink lots of water

Drinking water all day helps for many reasons, but one key reason is that it helps keep you full. Many people overeat or are extra hungry not because they are short on food, but because they are short on water. I suggest you try to drink between 80 and 120 ounces of water a day (roughly half of your body weight in ounces). This will help help hydrate your body and will also help eliminate some of the other beverages you may be drinking.

3. Limit sugary treats, snacks and drinks for holidays, weekend parties and special events

While you might be dedicated to eating healthy, eating 100 percent clean in college isn’t always sustainable. However, daily drinking of soda pop (sugary or diet or both) can be your worst enemy long term. Determine the windows where you are going to eat “junk food” and then avoid it otherwise. A “window” is not a daily event. A window of time for eating junk food may be having treats on Halloween or a football party. It is Thanksgiving or Sunday dinner with the family. A date night could be a fine time to have ice cream, but do your best to limit these “windows.” Don’t be extreme either way, though. Just try to reduce the consumption of junk food during the week.

Here are some simple, and healthy, daily eating plans that fit intermittent fasting:


  • Smoothie (protein powder, frozen fruit, and spinach)
  • Whole grain pancakes, drizzled with honey and/or a healthy sweetener such as Kakato,™ erythritol, etc.

  • Peanut butter sandwich (whole grain bread, Adam’s natural peanut butter and honey)
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Apple


  • Meal-replacement shake
  • Sandwich (chicken breast or veggies, mustard and spinach)
  • Apple or banana

  • Large salad or steamed veggies
  • Fajitas (chicken or beans, salsa, onions, lettuce)
  • Baked sweet potato fries
Whether you’re trying to keep off the “Freshman 15,” lose it or simply trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle, a few simple steps can set you up for success. For a free simple program to follow for eating healthier and avoiding a junk food addiction, pick up a free copy of Silver Fern Elevated.

Charity Lighten, chief nutritionist for healthy foods company Silver Fern Brand, is a certified plant-based nutritionist, wife, mother of 4 and lover of food! Contact her at or through her website,


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