The typical college student often faces challenges and is constantly under time pressure and stress. During this time in one’s life, it can be difficult to refrain from bad habits like skipping meals or frequently eating at fast food joints. Teenagers and even young children can and do develop eating disorders. However, young people, particularly young women, are most at risk for developing them during their college years. The accumulated stress and pressure during college usually open a wide window for health issues, which includes anorexia and bulimia.
College students’ irregular eating habits are frequently caused by their hectic class schedules and late evenings. Meals, especially breakfast, are frequently ignored when there isn’t time to eat. Binge eating of unhealthy foods occurs as a result of late-night study sessions in an effort to make up for missed meals or the necessity to stay awake. These circumstances are due to students not prioritising their nutrition.
Eating healthily does more than only keep you healthy. Eating a nutritious diet can greatly improve mood, stress-handling ability, and overall performance in the classroom and sports field. In order to maintain a solid performance, especially for student-athletes, they need to consume a varied diet that includes plenty of energy in the form of carbohydrates (grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans), necessary proteins (lean meats, low-fat dairy products, or soy products), healthy fats (nuts, avocados, olive oil), vitamins, and minerals (Parcon, 2011).
Here are Tips for you to Stay Healthy While in College
Learn What a Balanced Diet Is
A balanced diet includes the proper proportions of the macronutrients—proteins, fats, and carbohydrates—as well as the micronutrients—vitamins and minerals—that your body requires to function properly. Make sure you eat a variety of foods and include some carbs, protein, fat, and fiber in each meal if you want to obtain enough of these nutrients. However, being away from home possibly for the first time is a great way to discover your body and its fueling needs. For some people they will need more carbohydrates and for some different portions will make them feel more energetic. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your plate to your friends plate and use this time to discover everything about you including your eating habits. Remember to take some time to learn what a balanced diet is for you.
A Good Breakfast; Start with some Fuel
According to studies, skipping breakfast lowers scholastic performance. Breakfast fuels the body for the upcoming day’s work or school. Researchers at the University of Leeds discovered that students who rarely ate breakfast before heading to school received approximately two worse grades than those who did on a daily basis (Laguipo, 2019). If you don’t have time to sit down and eat breakfast, grab a bagel, some fruit, and some juice. The majority of these things can be conveniently stowed away in your dorm room.
Refrain from Sugary Drinks
Coffee is definitely a go-to for college students. It is not all bad until you take in too many extra calories of sugar and fat daily. Caffeine may improve our memory, but it has its limits. Excessive caffeine can result in vicious cycles of insomnia, anxiety, and problems with heart rate. If you must drink coffee, drink in moderation and try to stick with pure coffee or no sugar. If a latte is your go-to, replace it with skim or soy milk.
Additionally, a study by Richard and Smith (2016), shows that tension and anxiety scores were significantly higher than the placebo of ‘energy’ gain. They also observed increased nervousness, insomnia, and activeness when energy drinks were consumed rather than placebos. It is also important to know that there are a variety of low-sugar sodas in the market. This includes diet sodas, which are generally safer than normal sodas. A good example of an alternative soda is Ollipop. It has a similar taste to soda, but it has far more nutritional value than diet sodas (Scalco, 2021).
Some Cola-like Alternatives
- Olipop Vintage Cola
- Health-Ade Booch Pop
- Poppi Healthy Sparkling Prebiotic Soda
- Virgil’s Zero Sugar Root Beer
- United Sodas of America
- Dona Soda
- Minna Organic Sparkling Tea
In addition, instead of sodas, try some of these;
- Flavored Water
- Green Tea (Hot or Iced)
- Sparkling Water
- Fresh Juice
- Milk (Soy Milk for non-dairy)
- Unsweetened Coconut Water
Fast food? Choose Wisely
It’s easy to say avoid fast food, but in some circumstances, there is no other choice but fast food. When choosing an item in a fast food joint, avoid fried ones, limit portion sizes, replace the drink with water, and add that juicy yummy fruit. Some fast food may market themselves as “healthy” and contain vegetables but be reminded that they still contain an extensive amount of sugar and salt per item.
Stock up on Healthy Food
If your room has a tiny fridge, keep it supplied with healthy options, salsa, hummus, mozzarella sticks, baby carrots, fresh fruit, and yogurt. Keep rice cakes, unbuttered popcorn, whole grain crackers, baked tortilla chips, and nuts and nut butter in your “pantry.” This can also serve as your reason to avoid unhealthy ‘late night snacks’ as this will serve as your snack when hunger strikes.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients like fiber, calcium, vitamin C, and potassium. They are so healthy and low on calories. Some, like carrots and salad, are actually tasty and beneficial for your body.
Additionally, you will learn how to eat healthily on a budget. You can plan your meals in advance, helping to keep note of your expenses and save time as well.
Learn How to Cook
Learning how to cook may be a bit overwhelming, but it pays off a lot. This saves you a lot of money plus the benefits of cooking knowledge. You will also learn what food is actually important to you, and the mindset of healthy living kicks in. So if the school you’re in offers culinary courses, don’t be afraid to add more skills. Check out this article on Budget Bytes with 30 EASY recipes for college students.
Decrease your Alcohol Intake
A study conducted by Osain and Alekseevic in 2010 states that students’ alcohol usage is a significant public health issue that leads to Secondhand Effects including decreased academic performance, injuries, blackouts, and alcohol dependence. It also showed that non-alcohol user students have a 10.9% – 11.4% higher rate of academic performance compared to those who consume alcohol.
Moreover, on average, a standard alcoholic drink contains around 120 calories. Multiply it by how many bottles are consumed, and this may result in unhealthiness. Just save up that spare money and use it for other college things or a fun night out.
Always Bring a Water Bottle
Drinking water regularly on a daily basis helps prevent dehydration, improves digestion, enhances concentration, helps maintain blood pressure, and more. In short, water is needed by our bodies. Sometimes we mistakenly believe that we are hungry when we are actually quite thirsty. Bringing your own water also helps you save as you won’t need to buy bottled water.
Lastly, we would like to give you recommendations for Healthy foods that do not require any refrigeration.
- Citrus Fruits
- Potato & Sweet Potato
- Noodles & Pasta
- Nuts & Seeds
- Granola Bars
- Dried Fruits
- Whole Grain
Best wishes in your academic journey and remember to enjoy these years of your life as they are an amazing time for exploration. We wish you a healthy and happy journey. If you are in Alaska you can look us up to get any tests or health exams before you start your next semester. If you are planning on studying abroad we may have the COVID test or other tests you need so be sure to check out our website.