It can be hard to eat healthy in college. With a new timetable, a busy social life and the freedom to eat what and when you please, many students fall into bad habits that affect their grades and their overall health. Here are the eating habits of a successful college student so you can ensure you maintain your health while at college: 1. Not Eating Late At NightApart from classes, college students usually don’t have much routine. They party some nights, nap during the day, study into the early hours of the morning and go home for the holidays. Their schedules change a lot more than the average person and they’re awake or asleep at all different hours. This means that students will often eat late at night and will usually pick high-calorie or rich foods (like a greasy slice of pizza after a night of partying). When food is consumed outside of a typical wake/sleep cycle, your body is more likely to store these calories as fat rather than using them for energy. This can increase your levels of insulin, glucose and cholesterol. This means that eating late at night can lead to a lot of different health issues like weight gain, acid reflux, poor sleep and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. It not only affects your metabolism but also your concentration, memory and other cognitive functions. Try and eat a satisfying meal at a normal ‘dinner’ time, sometime before 8 pm, and restrict late night snacking. 2. Eating RegularlyOne habit of successful college students is eating smaller meals and healthy snacks often, rather than gorging on a huge meal after a day of not eating. As a student, your body and brain need constant energy throughout the day and this energy comes from healthy foods. Skipping meals slows down your metabolism and also increases the likelihood that you’ll overindulge at your next meal . Eating small, frequent meals improves your mood and concentration, increases your metabolic function and helps to maintain your blood sugar levels. When these drop, cortisol, the stress hormone rises, which can affect the quality of your study and also make you more likely to reach for unhealthy food options. Even if you have a hectic class schedule, make sure you are eating every few hours. Part of eating regularly means starting your day with a healthy, nutritious breakfast. If you know you have a busy day, organize to pack lunch with you. Listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry, rather than waiting till you’re absolutely starving. 3. Smart SnackingSuccessful students are smart snackers. If you’re running around campus or working on a big project, you need energy from food to keep you going. But you want high-quality food energy that will be long-lasting and nourish your body. Keeping healthy snacks on you and stocking your dorm with healthy snack options can help keep you alert and focused throughout the day. Limiting your access to junk food by not purchasing it or not having it readily available can help encourage you to pick the more nutritious options. Fruits and vegetables, nuts, protein bars, veggies chips and hard-boiled eggs are all examples of snacks that will help you stay satisfied and increase your productivity. 4. Avoiding Fad DietsCollege students can be particularly susceptible to the lure of fad diets or diet trends. This is particularly prevalent in young women who are more likely to have body image concerns. Studies show that over 90% of women at college had attempted to control their weight by dieting. Often fad diets are restrictive and can you leave you dehydrated and undernourished. A healthy diet is one that is well-balanced and varied, with a mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, proteins, legumes and treats in moderation. These fad diets usually do not approach weight loss in a sustainable way. For example, juice cleanses involve eating nothing for a days at a time and while you lose weight during this period, most people end up gaining back the weight they lost shortly afterwards. Following fad diets can lead to extreme weight loss or weight gain, fatigue, headaches, irritability, digestive problems and anxiety. All of these will affect your performance as a student negatively. If you are struggling with body image issues, seek professional help or talk to someone you trust about the problem. Diets are not the answer!5. Drinking In ModerationDrinking in moderation can be hard for college students who are often the biggest culprits of binge drinking. But successful college students are those who recognize when they’ve had enough to drink and are aware of the negative impact alcohol can have on health. Misusing or excessive use of alcohol in young people leads to damage of the prefrontal cortex, the frontal lobe and the hippocampus. This can affect your visual learning, your memory and your brain’s ability to plan and make decisions. From the perspective of weight gain, alcoholic drinks are often very high in calories - a margarita for example can be up to 600 calories and mostly sugar. If you are drinking, try and avoid sugary, alcoholic drinks like cocktails or spirits mixed with soft drinks. Try light beer, wine or mixing your drinks with club soda. 6. Carrying A Water BottleA healthy habit that is important to have, regardless of your age or situation, is staying hydrated. As a student, drinking enough water can improve your concentration, prevent headaches, keep you alert and stop you from overeating. Carrying a water bottle with you also reduces the likelihood of reaching for unhealthy drink alternatives, like soda, juice or coffee. 7. Batch Cooking Successful college students often think ahead and plan their meals. Planning your meals and cooking them in advance can help to ensure you eat healthy while at college. By batch cooking you can make sure that you still have a healthy meal available to you no matter how unpredictable your schedule is. Casseroles, curries, stews and soups can all be kept in the freezer then defrosted at your convenience.Freelance Writer: Rachel is a mother of 2 beautiful boys. She loves to hike and write about traveling, education and business. She is a Senior Content Manager at Bizset.com - an online resource of relevant business information.