Let’s be practical. College students lead a hectic life, especially when they’re away at school. There are new responsibilities and no mom or dad there to share the work, help with studies, and fix healthy meals. It’s easy to grab a handful of cookies, chips, or other handy but low-nutrition munchies between classes or on the way to the library. The real key to staying healthy at school is good nutrition, and the only way that is going to happen is a conscious effort to keep healthful foods handy and easily accessible. Here are a few tips to help busy students make that happen.
1. Make a shopping list, and never, never shop when you’re hungry. If you go to the store when you’re starving because you missed lunch, you’re going to buy every bag of goodies you see. And once you make your shopping list, stick to it!
2. Make sure you stock up your dorm room with fruits, veggies, cashews and other nuts, and handy proteins like tuna, peanut butter, whole grain crackers or whole grain pretzels, cheese sticks and hard boiled eggs. This makes it really easy to grab some wholesome items to eat between classes or when there’s no time to stop for lunch.
3. Do not skip meals. Even if you don’t roll out of bed until the last minute, you can still snag up some cereal bars and an apple on the way out the door. Dried fruits are good too and often come pre-packaged in serving-sized portions that can be tossed in a backpack with a handful of nuts. Skipping breakfast is a bad start to the day because bodies need that nutritional jump start to get going in the morning. Skipping breakfast deprives your body of the fuel it needs to think clearly and maintain energy throughout the morning. And by the way, coffee does not count as breakfast.
4. Try to grab a bagel and some cream cheese from the cafeteria to take back to your room for the next morning. This will mean you will have to resist having it for a late night snack though. Add some dried fruit and a hard-boiled egg and you’re good to go. Keep that in mind because it can make the morning routine a lot easier.
5. For nighttime snacking, which is always going to be going on, popcorn, whole grain cereal, light yogurt, fresh fruit, cottage cheese and whole grain crackers are a lot better than cheeseburgers and fries from the all-night drive-through.
Keep in mind that this isn’t really about fitness or weight control; it’s about good nutrition to remain healthy. College students spend a lot of time at the campus clinic with colds, earaches and other issues that are oftentimes the direct result of poor nutrition that has compromised the immune system and the ability to fight off typical winter illnesses. Not eating right will end up costing more time in the long run than planning some sensible food choices to help with staying healthy in the first place.
Photo credit: Pears & Apples by Dimitar Nikolov/flickr; Bottled Water by greggoconnell/flickr