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Why is nutritious food so important? It’ll help you look great, for starters. But while vanity is often our main motivation for healthy eating, the real benefit of choosing a healthy diet is a healthy mind and body. For hard-working students at colleges and universities, this is especially important.

If you fuel your body properly, you’ll have plenty of energy to stay awake in class, study for tests, and spend time with friends. The whole reason you’re in college, after all, is to expand your mind and social circle, not your waistline. If you’re feeling good, it’s a lot easier to get up for early-morning classes. The following is a college guide to eating better while you’re away at school.

Clean up your act

Here’s some key college info: if you’re short on workout time, the best way to stay healthy is through clean eating. This means avoiding foods loaded with preservatives and unnatural sugars. Eat well by chewing on the basics: fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, water, and vitamins.

College is the perfect time to start focusing on nutrition. If you’re on a meal plan at college, search for the healthier foods in the cafeteria — they are there. If you’re buying your groceries, you completely control what you eat. Even on a limited budget, you can find foods that are good for you, and as much as possible, choose clean foods.

Take control of your cravings

A healthy menu may be low in salt and sugar, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid the occasional call of the snacks. Not entirely. The easiest way to keep your munchies under control is to opt for single servings. You’ll consume fewer calories but still quench your junk food craving. If you eat from larger servings, you’ll likely lose track of how many chips you’ve eaten, and your efforts will be wasted.

College information: reduce coffee intake

Most college students love coffee, but beware. Your average “energy-boosting” mug has no benefit. So how are you going to make it? Most students think that coffee and soda are effective study aids. In fact, they can produce some downright debilitating effects, such as restlessness and irritability. Paying attention in your classes is virtually impossible when you’re jumping out of your seat.

Caffeine is a drug, which means it can compromise your emotional and mental states. If you like it loaded with cream and sugar your waistline may be stressed out as well! As with any food, moderation is the key.

Learn more about nutrition at colleges and universities

To learn all about nutrition, why not take a nutrition class? You can earn some credits, discover more about food, and keep healthy eating on your mind. Hopefully, this will inspire you to pass on the banana split and choose just the banana — which, by the way, makes you look good and builds brain power.