College is an amazing era of your life to explore your interests, create relationships and find who you are without the family and friends that have provided a backbone in the early years of your life. For many, it is also the first time to fight for themselves, and the responsibility can be overwhelming. The first thing that college students tend to do under such pressure is sacrifice health, in lieu of studying, partying and other so called “priorities.” While fitness and nutrition may seem like the easiest concerns to toss out the window, they are fundamental tools in harnessing enough energy to make it through a busy day as a student. You can bury your head in books for hours to cram for an exam, and drink a Red Bull to make it out for a late-night event, but said tactics can only yield short-term effects. If you want long-lasting fuel that will nurture your body later in life, these five simple tips will lead you to success!
Fill your fridge with healthy options
Let’s face it, college students are lazy. It is easy to eat food that is readily available to us, and those habits start from home. Whether you have the facilities to cook or just enough space to store some essentials, you should stock up on plenty of healthy breakfast and snack foods that will keep you satisfied throughout the day. Keeping nutrition bars, nut butter, oatmeal, fruit, Greek yogurt and other filling, wholesome options in your living space will make it easy to start your day the right way, and satisfy night-time cravings without the guilt!
Establish a routine
Between inconveniently timed classes, extracurricular activities and jobs, college students are always on the move. Often, this can lead to skipping meals and eating a day’s worth of food late at night. While you may justify eating slices of pizza after 10pm because you barely ate earlier, this practice will only slow your metabolism and deprive your body of essential nutrients. Be sure to pack your favorite bars in your backpack so you never go hungry while going from class to class. If you don’t have time to stop for lunch, prepare your own meal from home, or plan to pick up a hearty sandwich or salad before your day gets too crazy!
Be smart in the dining hall
Many first year students and on-campus residents are faced with the burden of a meal plan. With thousands of dining points and the ease of returning for seconds (or thirds), it is easy to get carried away. Just because you can eat more, doesn’t mean you should. Eat slowly and listen to your body when it tells you it’s full, even if the ice cream station is just a few feet away. Will power is the most important tool when entering the dining hall. Remember that if you look hard enough, there is always a healthy option, though you may have to get a little creative. Deconstructing a hot meal or asking the kitchen for a grilled chicken breast to supplement a scanty salad bar are just a couple of ways you can navigate your way to healthy eating in this setting.
Drink A LOT of water
Walking around campus all day will not only leave you hungry, but thirsty as well. Staying hydrated is vital in order to keep your regular bodily functions up to par. Hunger and dehydration are signaled by similar symptoms, so be aware of how much water you are drinking to prevent overeating.
It is especially important to keep track of your H2O intake when drinking alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol without enough water can leave you feeling ill, so leave a glass of water next to your bed before going out (you’ll thank yourself in the morning). The same rules follow for late night eating, so before deciding to get that slice of pizza you think you need, HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE!
While maintaining a healthy lifestyle during your college years is important, it is unrealistic to keep up with your diet and workout routine 24/7. Having a “cheat day” or rewarding yourself with small indulgences a couple times per week is encouraged so you will be less likely to binge on a stressful day.
Beth Nydick, founder of Blue Barn Kitchen, blogs about healthful topics of the day. Creating and promoting a “real food” approach to simplifying your healthy lifestyle and to make healthy eating feel effortless. www.bluebarnkitchen.com
Written by Carly Taylor