Everyone knows that a balanced diet, exercise and plenty of rest are key to maintaining good health. However, while studying, this can be an impossible task. Often, the temptations of sweets, fast food, caffeine and alcohol outweigh healthy options when you are hanging out with friends or under the stress of coursework. Here are some tips on how to stay healthy despite your college lifestyle.
Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Your body needs more than 40 different nutrients for good health, and there is not just one source for them. Your daily food choices should include a balanced mix of good carbohydrates, proteins, fruits, vegetables and dairy. Check out the USDA’s nutrition guide at mypyramid.gov.
Keeping portion sizes moderate and reasonable makes it easier to eat what you want and maintain a healthy, balanced diet. What is a moderate portion? A medium-sized piece of fruit is one serving. A cup of pasta is 2 servings and a pint of ice cream contains 4 servings.
Skipping meals can lead to uncontrollable hunger and often results in overindulging. If you are pressed for time, a small snack between meals can help. Just make sure you eat at least two balanced meals.
Do not skip certain foods. Because our bodies need a varied diet, it’s not a good idea to cut salt, fat and sugar out of your diet altogether unless a doctor advises it. Choosing healthier options such as skim or low-fat dairy products will help you maintain a balanced diet.
Foods are not good or bad. It’s all about portion control!
Stay away from colas and other sugary sodas, which can contain up to 17 teaspoons of sugar per 20-ounce drink! Sugar is a source of empty calories that can deplete the body of important vitamins and minerals. Water not only helps keep us hydrated, but also helps circulate blood, remove toxins from our bodies, and regulate our body temperature.
Avoid too much caffeine. Caffeine is a highly addictive drug that can impair sleep and concentration, but also affects bodily functions such as muscle function and waste elimination.
Use the stairs instead of the elevator, get moving for at least 30 minutes every day. If the idea of sweating in the gym for hours does not appeal to you, go outside and play a game of Ultimate Frisbee. Or go for a walk or a jog. The most important thing is that you get moving!
Keep yourself organized to avoid unnecessary and avoidable stress.
Turn off the TV and listen to music. Take time each day, even if it’s just 15 minutes, for relaxation and reflection. Make sure you get enough sleep.
Allow yourself at least 30 minutes of quiet, relaxing activities, such as reading, at night before bed. Resist the temptation to take sleeping pills when you are under the stress of writing papers, studying, etc. Sleep is not a waste of time! It is as important and necessary as diet and exercise.
Get involved and meet people in a positive environment. The transition to college can often be difficult, especially when students leave the support system they have known all their lives. Whether you get involved with a sports team or Rhodes Student Council, join a religious organization, volunteer at the soup kitchen or help in other ways, helping others helps. The most important thing is that you find something that interests you and that you enjoy.