Everyone knows that eating a balanced diet, exercising and getting plenty of rest are key to maintaining good health. However, that can seem to be an impossible task while in college. Frequently, the appeal of sweets, fast food, caffeine and alcohol outweigh healthy options when you’re in the company of friends or under stress from coursework. Here are some tips for staying healthy in spite of your college lifestyle.
Eat a variety of nutrient rich foods. Your body actually needs more than 40 different nutrients for good health, and there is not one single source for them. Your daily food selection should include a balance of good carbs, protein, fruits, veggies, and dairy products. Check out the food guide from the USDA at mypyramid.gov.
Eat moderate portions. If you keep portion sizes moderate and reasonable, it is easier to eat what you want, and maintain a healthy and balanced diet. What’s a moderate portion? A medium-sized piece of fruit is one serving. A cup of pasta equates 2 servings and a pint of ice cream contains 4 servings.
DO NOT SKIP MEALS. Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger and frequently results in over-indulging. Snacking between regular meals can help if you are pressed for time. Just make sure you have at least two balanced meals.
DO NOT eliminate certain foods. Because our bodies require diverse nutrition, it’s a bad idea to eliminate all salt, fat, and sugar from our diets, unless told to do so by a medical professional. Choosing healthier options such as skim or low-fat dairy will help you maintain a balanced diet.
Foods are not good or bad. It’s all about portion control!
Drink water! Stay away from cokes and other sugary sodas, which can pack as much as 17 teaspoons of sugar per 20oz drink! Sugar is a source of empty calories that can use up important vitamins and minerals in your body. Water helps not only to hydrate, but to aid in blood circulation, the removal of toxins from our bodies and in the regulation of our body temperatures.
Avoid too much caffeine. Caffeine is a mildly addictive drug that can affect your ability to sleep and focus while also affecting such bodily functions as muscle function and the cleansing of waste products.
Fitness and stress management
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Get at least 30 minutes of activity every day. If the idea of sweating at the gym for hours on end doesn’t sound appealing to you, then head outside for a game of ultimate Frisbee. Or, try going for a walk or a run. The important thing is that you get moving!
- Keep yourself organized to eliminate unnecessary and preventable stress.
- Turn off the TV and listen to music.
- Make time everyday, even if it’s just 15 minutes, for relaxation and reflection.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Allow at least 30 minutes of quiet relaxing activity before bed at night, e.g. reading.
- Resist the temptation to use sleeping pills, when under the stress of writing papers, studying, etc.
- Sleep is not a waste of time! It’s as important and necessary as nutrition and exercise.
Get involved and meet people in a positive environment. Often the adjustment to college can be difficult, especially when students are leaving the support system they have known for a lifetime. Whether it’s participating on a sports team or in Rhodes Student Government, joining a religious organization, volunteering at the soup kitchen, or helping in some other form, helping others helps us. The most important thing to remember is to find something you are interested in and enjoy yourself
Click here for more information about Student Health Services.