In college, we develop new eating habits, but how healthy are they? The dining plan, which is mandatory with most university housing, gives students a variety of food options that are quick, easy and familiar. It’s so easy to grab pasta, a slice of pizza and soda, but what are the consequences?

For most students, being away from home is a nice break from the constant nagging to eat healthy, yet for me, college forced me to realize that eating healthy is the only way I can feel good about what’s going in my body. My 250 plan is still in use, but I make the conscious decision to spend money at Whole Foods Market. Most people question this choice, as it seems like I’m throwing out the cost of my dining plan, so I made a list of the reasons why I buy the majority of my food from Whole Foods.

1. I was raised this way.
Growing up, I was always annoyed my mom would never buy me the Lucky Charms I yearned for, but what I didn’t know was that she was doing this out of the goodness of her heart. My mom only eats organic food, and the same goes for her family. I, like most kids raised on a strict diet, believed I would get to college and make the most of my dining plan by eating junk food everyday. Little did I know that around 16 years old, eating healthy would become a central focus of my life. Everyday, I would come home to Whole Foods grocery bags waiting for me and now I can thank my mom for making me care about what I eat.

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gif via GIPHY.com

2. I feel good about what I’m eating.
Whole Foods is expensive, but Whole Foods is worth it. My biggest concern with the dining hall is that I tend to gravitate towards everything that will raise my cholesterol and ruin my balanced diet. As a vegetarian, making sure I have enough protein (and not too many carbs) is important to staying healthy. The dining hall can definitely fall flat when it comes to variety. When I walk into Whole Foods, I not only have a comforting feeling of home, but I’m also comforted by the variety of options that are good for me. Self-care becomes more essential than ever in college, even though it becomes the easiest thing to forget about.

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gif via GIPHY.com

3. I know what I’m eating.

We’re all familiar with the map outside the dining hall that shows where the produce is from, but which foods are from where, and what ingredients are really being used? This uncertainty makes me nervous, but when you grocery shop at Whole Foods you know your ingredients. Many of the fruits and vegetables have the place of origin right underneath, which makes me feel good about buying ingredients and doing my best to put meals together in my room.

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gif via SHEMAZING

4. I support what they stand for. 
Whole Foods promises high quality and sustainability. All of the brands they sell abide by a certain set of standards, and most of the fruits and vegetables are organic. There’s no better feeling than knowing your food is good for you and the environment.

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gif via GIPHY.com

5. I can maintain my lifestyle from home in the midst of a crazy college schedule.
College is a balancing act, and remembering your values from home is an important part of living. Just because you’re in a new place doesn’t mean you should forget about the foundation you were raised on. For me, eating healthy was always a core value, and the craziness of college will not distract me from remembering why clean eating is important to me.

gif via GIPHY.com

gif via GIPHY.com

My commitment to Whole Foods is a big one, but it’s worth it. While not everyone understands my commitment to eating my personal best, it’ll always be something I value.