How Busy College Students can Stay Healthy
* This is a guest post by Brian Jenkins
Most people know that college students are fond of celery sticks. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the truth! Most actually prefer unhealthy, high-calorie food items. Also, it’s no secret that college students drink a lot of alcohol, and these empty calories contribute to making them plump. To stay healthy, students should avoid residence hall vending machines, student union fast food joints, and late night study snacks. Let’s take a look at some other important topics:
Don’t make eating a hobby. Also, try not to skip breakfast, because eating in the morning gets your metabolism going and allows you to burn more calories through the course of the day. Consider having instant oatmeal or some fruit. Only eat pastries vicariously through your roommate! If you’re going to have a snack, stick with healthier alternatives such as fresh fruit, celery, rice cakes, or pretzels. Also, snacking late at night puts on weight. A study conducted in 2005 showed that eating between 8 pm and 4 am is a leading contributor to weight gain.
If you add cheese to your meals, reduce the calories by using grated Parmesan; it’s packed with flavor so you only need to add a small amount to your food. Salsa and vinegar are other good flavor-adding condiments. If you’re going to have a slice of pizza, make it thin crust. Less crust means fewer carbohydrates. Also, the sauces in Chinese food usually have a lot of fat, so ask your server for a low-fat version.
Here are some unhealthy food and drinks to avoid:
- Refined carbohydrates, high-sugar foods, and high-fat foods
- The skin on chicken meat, which includes a lot of fat
- Fried foods
- High calorie desserts
- High calorie energy drinks
- Some coffee drinks (some have as many calories as a whole meal should contain)
- Whole milk
Does the thought of giving up ice cream and other tasty desserts seem absurd? If so, you can treat yourself occasionally to small portions of these tasty desserts. And no, eating small desserts isn’t just for wimps! Since you only have taste buds on your tongue eat slowly and enjoy the taste. Experts report people consume less food by eating slowly. Also, use a small plate for meals. People typically fill up large plates with too much food. An article entitled Eat Sweets and Still Lose the Belly Fat provides some interesting information for dessert lovers.
Eat a balance of vegetarian proteins or lean meats, high fiber carbohydrates, and whole grains. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and keep in mind that fresh and frozen vegetables contain more nutrients than canned varieties.
Eat salads, and pile them high with dark, leafy greens and vegetables. Avoid high-calorie creamy dressings. Choose a low-calorie option such as a vinaigrette and don’t pour on too much.
Alcoholic drinks contain many, many calories. One beer has about 150 of them. If you have a few on a weekend night, the calories can really add up. If you’re going to drink, light beer is the preferred choice. Also, alcohol reduces the amount of fat the body burns to make energy. Instead of being stored as fat, most of the alcohol is converted to a substance known as acetate. When acetate levels rise, your body burns more acetate and less fat.
Avoid binge drinking and your liver will thank you! Perhaps you need a hotline for problem drinkers or if your friends mock you, give them some reasons as to why you’re not interested in drinking so much anymore:
- It’s unhealthy.
- Hanging out with friends is what makes you happy. You don’t need alcohol.
- It may damage your brain.
- You’re not fond of being in a drunken stupor.
- You don’t enjoy hangovers.
- You don’t want to harm your liver.
Initially, your friends may react in a slightly negative manner, but later they’ll respect you for not bowing to peer pressure. Perhaps you’ll inspire them to avoid binge drinking.
Studies have connected an appropriate amount of sleep to maintaining a healthy weight. Also, sleep is a good way to manage stress, which can prompt you to overeat. Try to get eight hours of sleep every night.
Exercise, as you probably know, is a great way to burn off some of the calories you ingest during the day. Sashay around campus on a daily basis. Well, actually it’s better to do some jogging, aerobics, fast walking, or participate in sports. Dancing is another good aerobic exercise. You’re more likely to continue participating in an exercise routine if you have an exercise partner, so try to find a friend who also wants to get fit.
Eating unhealthy snacks from an open container often leads to the consumption of 500 to 800 calories in just one snack session. If, after doing some pondering, surmising, contemplating, and soul searching you decide to eat an unhealthy snack, take out a small portion and put the container away.
Yes, you can have fun at college, get good grades, AND stay healthy!
Brian Jenkins is an expert on a variety of topics related to the college experience. He writes about these topics for BrainTrack.com.