(originally posted 8/23/2013. libbysfitnutrition.com)
New school year. New books. New classes. New living situations. New temptations.
How do you stay healthy in college?
Here are my tips for making it a healthy and waist-maintaining school year.
1) Walk everywhere! Campus is big, and likely close to shops and restaurants and parks that you can walk to instead of driving or bussing to. Walking between classes with that backpack is great resistance training for your body- like a backpacker hiking all school year.
2) Create a set healthy-breakfast to have daily. Fruit/veg, a grain, protein. Something quick to make in your room, so you have no excuse to not eat breakfast (a very important kick-start to your day).
3) Watch it in the dining hall. Dessert with every meal, pizza, fries, burgers, greasy stir-fry and pasta dishes! Tempting, but they don't have to de-rail your day. Start at the salad/soup bar. You likely have one with more veggies than you would ever buy for yourself, so why not enjoy them? Fill your plate with half vegetables and fruit, 1/4 grains (pasta/rice/cereal/dessert/etc) and 1/4 protein (meat/yogurt/cheese & beans/tofu/milk). Sit with friends and talk, savor your food, and only go back for more if you truly are hungry.
4) Beer belly. There is a reason for that term. A 12 oz beer has anywhere from 64 - 250 calories (and the solo cups are 16 oz, so 3 of those = 4 beer servings). Even if the consequences of binge-drinking don't scare you off, maybe the calorie stats will.
5) All-nighters. Staying up all night is all too common for the un-prepared student. But not sleeping messes with your ability to think clearly, your metabolism (it makes you hungrier, and more likely to store fat), and often comes with an abundance sugar-y snack foods and coffee or energy drinks to stay awake. Honestly you are better off getting at least a few hours of sleep before that test, so stay up late if you need to, go to bed, and wake refreshed and ready to ace the exam - sans sugar.
6) Food deserts. Going hungry during the day because you don't have access to food can be a real problem. How are you supposed to function at your best with a growling stomach? The trick- plan ahead. Pack sustainable snacks in your bag. Trail mix, protein bars, ice packs in your lunch box with yogurt, hard boiled eggs, etc., a sandwich, bagel and cheese, you get the picture. Having foods that fill you up and don't require refrigeration or worry about smashing or spilling can be as important to pack as your #2 pencils.
What else worries you about back to school health? Write me a comment and I'll post on it.
Have a great first day!
Libby is a Registered Dietitian focusing on eating disorder treatment and prevention. She is working on the central coast to create wellness in individuals and the community
Not Your Average Nutritionist, LLC