Healthy College Essentials
Starting college is a big change for anyone. During my first couple of years in college I fell into the trap of eating processed, cheap canteen food and doing little to no cooking myself. I was on an athletics scholarship and that depended on performing so I knew I had to make changes to my lifestyle. Looking back, I wish I had known these top tips from the very start of my college days:
1) Eat breakfast
This can be as simple as preparing overnight oats the night before or grabbing a slice of toast with nut butter and banana as you run out the door to your 9am lecture. It’s not expensive and will set you up for a good day at college.
2) Avoid skipping meals
Unlike in secondary school where you had designated break times, it’s common for lectures to run straight through lunch. Bring something with you to keep you going until you get a proper meal. Leaving long gaps between eating can wreak havoc with your blood sugar and impact negatively on your concentration. I love to keep Nakd bars, a bag of popcorn or a piece of fruit with some nuts in my bag.
3) Portion control
This might be the first time in your life when you must put together a plate of food for yourself on a regular basis. Whether you are cooking from scratch or eating from the college canteen keep in mind what a balanced plate of food looks like. I aim to fill half my plate with vegetables, a quarter with protein, a quarter with carbohydrates and add some healthy fats to finish.
4) Move your body
Fitting exercise into an already busy schedule can be tough but making a conscious effort to include 30 minutes five times per week will pay huge dividends. Lots of universities have great fitness centres that offer group classes like pilates and kickboxing. If the gym isn’t your thing then joining a sports club can be a great way to exercise while meeting new people and having fun.
I understand that sleep is not the priority for most students but it’s so important. Try to target getting to bed and banking hours of sleep a few nights a week. This will go a long way to help recover from the nights you do are cramming or out partying!
Make water your go-to, moderate your caffeine intake and limit your consumption of high-sugar fizzy drinks. Did you know that being even slightly dehydrated can have a negative impact on aspects such as decision-making, concentration and reaction times? For example, losing more than 5% of your body weight in water reduces your ability to move and work by as much as 30%.
7) Mental health matters
It’s easy to get stressed with deadlines, classes and exams but minding your mental health is vital. We all get homesick, anxious and lonely at times but if it’s an ongoing issue that interferes with your day-to-day life be sure to talk to someone. Most colleges have a healthcare centre with qualified professionals who can offer you help and support
I’m not going to lecture anyone about drinking but being mindful of your consumption of alcohol is super important. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach, alternate between alcoholic beverages throughout the night and be sure to rehydrate before you go to bed.I can’t stress enough the importance of a careful approach to alcohol.