9 Tips for Staying Healthy (and Happy) in College

Monday, July 20, 2015

So there’s about a month left of summer for college students (or soon to be college students), and I wanted to give my two cents about staying healthy. I graduated from NC State with a B.S. in Nutrition Science a little over a year ago (May 2014), and I want to start by saying that I was not the poster lady of health in college. No, I didn’t gain the “Freshman 15”, but I did drink alcohol and ate my fair share of Cookout at 2am. But I also exercised regularly and maintained my weight throughout my four years.

GO PACK!!


Before I get started, I want to talk a little about what “healthy” means. It doesn’t mean eating kale and quinoa everyday. It doesn’t mean restricting yourself from “bad” foods, and it certainly doesn’t mean being “skinny”.  Being underweight is unhealthy and being overweight is unhealthy. We work to find the balance—the happy, healthy place. I know a lot of people who gained the “Freshman 15”, but also a handful that developed eating disorders. As students, you are under a lot of pressure. We all handle stress differently, but unfortunately an overwhelming amount of college-age individuals turn to food—binging or purging. We need to realize the damage it does to our body and take our health into our own hands. Here are a few tips of how you can do just that.

1. Moderation
In my opinion, moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Just about everything is okay in moderation! Yes, you can live a healthy lifestyle and still eat sweets every now and then. Donuts are okay in moderation, just as marathon running is okay in moderation! Again, we aim to find the balance

2. Take a nutrition class
(if offered) Nutrition 101, or introduction to Nutrition is a great way to get to know food composition, food labels, and the very basics of digestion, absorption and excretion through the body. Educate yourself! Realize the importance of taking care of your body and what you put into it does for you. But make sure it fits into your requirements! It most likely will, but always double check ;)



Never say no to a tailgate ;)


3. If you're going to drink, drink smart 
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out and have a good time. However, binge drinking leads to weight gain. Don’t be afraid to say “no” when you feel like you have had enough. Think about how much better you will feel the next day, and how much more you can accomplish if you trade in that extra beer for water! 

4. Buy a cookbook
Most of us were spoiled by our parents cooking for us every night before leaving for college. Now it’s time to start cooking for yourself and you don’t know how to cook a chicken breast! Yes, I was there too. There are so many great cookbooks out there, but aim for ones like, “The Healthy College Cookbook”, or even Cooking Light’s “5 Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook”  that have healthy, easy and cheap recipes! The more confident you are in the kitchen, the less you will eat out. And you will know exactly what you’re putting into your body. Is there anything more beautiful?? NO! (Just me? Lol) This will also save you so much money. For some reason, people think eating fast food for dinner every night is cheaper than eating in. FALSE


5. Check out the local Farmer’s Market
This will vary from college to college, but I’d be willing there is a Farmer’s Market close by to your school. There was one only a couple miles from NC State and we even had farmer’s bring fresh fruits and vegetables to campus and sell! The prices are always great, and the food is as fresh as it gets! Its great motivation to try out a new recipe with a vegetable you’ve never tried :)

6. Stay active
Whether or not you played a sport in high school, there’s an intramural sport for you! It is a great way to meet new people as well. And check out the recreation center! There could be group fitness classes, open gyms, a pool or so much more. There may be some bikes you can rent to explore your new city, or even kayaks! Take advantage of all that money you (or your parents) are putting into your college education and use your resources!


7. Sleep
This is a big one. In college it’s normal to pull all-nighters studying or going out and staying out late with your friends before your 8am. I’ve seen it happen too many times—student pulls and all-nighter studying, and forgets everything the minute they walk in the door. Sleep is SO important for brain functionality, development, and all around health and well being. It helps us “human”! We need at least 6-8 hours in order to maintain energy. Especially when you’re a young, active college student. So think of is this way: once you’re past a certain point of tiredness, your brain is not going to retain the information you are cramming into it. So close the books, get some rest and study in the morning before your exam!

8. Track
Track what you’re eating and how much you’re exercising. My Fitness Pal and FitBit make this SO easy nowadays! I’m not saying you should be counting every macro (unless you want to!), but just writing down what you eat for 4 days (2 weekdays and 2 weekend days) can really be mind-boggling. Try it! And then plug it into My Plate’s Super Tracker to see how much (or how little) you’re eating and what nutrients are in excess or lacking.

9. Surround yourself with people who support your decisions. If your friends are going to judge you for turning in early, or drinking less because you need to study the next day, then they aren’t good friends. If they’re going to give you crap for waking up early and heading to the gym, they’re not good friends. If they’re going to judge you for going to the salad bar instead of the pizza, they’re not good friends. Do I need to continue?? Surround yourself with people who have similar goals. Who will support you and not judge you.


Above all, remember to love yourself. Respect yourself and your body enough to do everything in your power to take care of it--inside and out <3

xoxo,
Chelsea


You Might Also Like

0 comments