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Health and wellness guide for busy college students
September 7, 2019 | 3:38 PM
by Courtesy of Articlecity
 
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Your first day of college is a blank slate. You’re in a new place, with new people, ready for new experiences. Will you adopt new habits, too?

While it’s tempting to indulge in the all-you-can-eat dining hall buffets, stay up late partying or studying, and only get a scarce amount of shut-eye, think twice.

Staying healthy in college isn’t an elective. According to a research, a staggering 95% of college students fail to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables every day. In addition, more than 60% report that they don’t get enough physical activity.

It’s easy to push your mind and body to their limit, especially with peer pressure, a demanding schedule, and not enough hours in the day to pack in work and play. Yet, when you run too long on empty, you’ll crash before long.



Today, we’re sharing some important nutrition and workout tips to help you make the most of this transformative season.

Don’t skip meals



Especially if you’re taking a full course load, it can be easy to grab a coffee on the way to class and call it breakfast. The same goes for dinner. You don’t exactly have time to break during the middle of an intense all-nighter, do you? You absolutely do. Your body requires fuel to function. Though you might think you’re being more productive if you skip a meal or two, it actually creates a steep drop in your blood sugar.

This muddles down your mental clarity and makes it more difficult to power through that study guide. It can also make you irritable and quick-tempered, two traits your roommates might not appreciate!

The same goes if you’re skipping meals to lose weight. As many students worry about the fabled “freshmen fifteen”, some might feel tempted to deny themselves of food. When you do, however, your metabolism slows down, making it more difficult for you to lose weight.

A better approach? Eat every three to five hours to keep your mood elevated and encourage brain function.

Finding healthy options: Not sure what kind of healthy food to grab? Keep oatmeal in your kitchen pantry for a quick pick-me-up when you need something to power you through the day. Mix in berries, nuts, and flaxseed for a substantial meal that’s chocked-full of nutrients.

Try to fill your plate with as much colour as possible, sticking to lean meats, fresh produce, and whole grains. Eat slow, serve yourself moderate portions and stop when you feel full.

There are also plenty of quick and healthy entrees you can make in your dorm room or apartment. From microwaved scrambled eggs to Mediterranean tuna salad, get creative and let your taste buds be the guide. You might also find BBQ grills near your apartment complex. Invite your friends to join you for a delicious cookout complete with veggie kababs and grilled chicken.

Choose smart snacks

Oreos might give you a little bolt of energy to tackle the next few classes, but sugar crashes are real, and they can wreak havoc on your evening. Instead of reaching for calorie-laden, sodium-rich nibblers, reach for filling and nutritious options instead. The good news? You’ll find that most of them cost less and last longer than that bag of chips you can finish in one sitting.

Some healthy snacks ideal for busy, budgeting students include:

Raw vegetables with hummus

Sliced fruit with almond butter

Low-fat string cheese with a handful of nuts

Low-fat cottage cheese

Greek yoghurt

Stash portable snacks in your bookbag for munching in the library or before class. This can help you resist those vending machines that are often present on campus or at nearby convenience stores.

A favourite treat that satisfies like chips without the added sodium or calories? Unsalted popcorn!

Avoid butter-flavoured or kettle corn varieties and dress it up on your own. Try it with smoked paprika, cinnamon or even a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for your next dorm room movie night.



Commit to exercise

You’re no longer in high school. Your schedule looks different one day to the next, you’ve always got friends nearby and classroom expectations that can feel insurmountable. With these social and academic pressures weighing on you, it’s tempting to put everything off until later. In fact, research reveals that 25% of college students become chronic procrastinators in college.

What are one of the first commitments to go? Physical activity.

You don’t have to pencil in one-hour sweat session every day but try to keep moving and stretching as much as possible. When you do, you can lower your stress levels, improve your mood, and strengthen your heart.

You can also set up your schedule in such a way that you must walk or bike across campus to get from one part of campus to the next. This is a great way to explore your university, connect with friends, and stay fit.

Guzzle water

Studies show that more than 80% of college students drink beverages that aren’t good for health. It’s unwise to stock your mini-fridge full of diet cokes. Consuming these sugary drinks on a regular basis can lead to the following health concerns:

Increased risk of diabetes

Increased risk of heart disease

Compromised kidney function

Dehydration

Heart disease

Metabolism changes

Tooth enamel erosion

In addition, consuming too many energy drinks can leave you feeling jittery and anxious, compromising your sleep schedule and digestive health.

Your best bet? Swap out those 2-litres for a giant, refillable water bottle instead. It’s easier on the environment and easy to throw into your bookbag. Pick refillable water bottle in your favourite colour or a pattern you love so you’ll be more willing to reach for it throughout the day.

If you have an 8:00am class and need a little caffeine to get you going, try herbal tea or black coffee. Skip the creamer and add a dash of almond milk to make it creamy.



Let technology help

Today’s graduating class is more tech-savvy and proficient behind a screen than any generation before it.

To that end, why not use technology to your advantage? While you’re taking notes on your iPad or scrolling social media before class, download a quick five-minute yoga workout that you can complete when you get back to your dorm.

There is a treasure trove of exercise apps available on your smartphone, most of which are free or inexpensive to use. Find one in a niche you like, such as cardio or dancing, and follow along. It’s a cheap but effective way to gain muscle and tone up without breaking the bank.

You can also use your phone to look up healthy food options nearby. These three apps take your dietary preferences into account and allow you to search for local eateries that cater to your needs. You can even filter and sort by cuisine and price!

Remember to sleep

This one is easier said than done, especially when you’re a student burning the candle on both ends.

You’ll pull a few inevitable 12-hour cram sessions, but don’t make them a common occurrence. Did you know that getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night can heighten your risk level for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes?

Even if you aren’t losing sleep to schoolwork or socializing, you might find it difficult to enter dreamland. One study showed that 68% of students lie awake at night worrying about big-picture issues including school and life.

Of the same group polled, 20% said they study through the night at least once a month, while 35% said they stay up until at least 3am.

To help control your unhealthy food cravings, balance your metabolism, and replenish your energy stores, it’s important to know when to cut off the day to catch up on sleep. If you can’t get in all six hours on a day, at least try to get a 15-minute catnap when you can. Any longer and you’ll feel cloudy when you awaken.

Don’t forget your mental health

Research shows that 41% of college students who visit a mental health counsellor on campus do so to help navigate anxiety issues. In addition, 36% seek treatment for depression while 35% need assistance navigating relationship issues.

Your emotional and mental health is as important as your physical well-being. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stretched too thin, it’s important to reach out. A counsellor can share some methods to help you navigate this taxing time.

One way to help ease tension and relieve pressure? Create a self-care routine and stick to it.

While you can’t slather on a face mask, run a bubble bath and put cucumber slices over your eyes every night, you can create an evening routine that you look forward to. Your mind can’t run 24/7 and it can’t run on empty. Fill it with the good stuff it craves and give it a chance to rest. You can even download guided meditation apps that can help you tap into your inner Zen.

In addition to spoken meditations, some include peaceful music for quiet moments. Others feature self-guided questions that help you reflect on your current state and encourage gratitude.

You’re about to take on more freedom than ever before, but you’ll have more responsibility, too. Rather than giving in to a lavish lifestyle of debauchery, sleep deprivation and empty calories – plan to make these the best four years of your life!

You’ve got enough to stress on your shoulders already and staying healthy in college doesn’t have to be hard.

Find nutrient-rich foods and snacks that keep your energy levels up, make sleep a priority, and get your blood pumping with a little exercise every day.

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