Paging all students! Are you running from class to class and running on empty? Up all night studying? Working and going to school? Is your refrigerator empty? Do you find yourself eating on the run? Are you getting lots of calories from liquids (coffee, tea, soda, etc.) and convenient processed foods?
I remember throughout my many years of school when I could answer “yes” to these questions (I am blushing). It was difficult to juggle all of the balls that I had in the air at the same time. But these are very common pitfalls for the modern student.
The day is busy (an understatement) and so is the night. Many students not only go to school, but also work full time and then have to fit in assignments and studying. With this schedule, eating is done on the run…whenever there is time and often without a lot of thought or planning. If you add up all the time (and money) spent with this type of an eating plan, you often spend more. And usually the nutrient value of this diet is less and the calories/fat consumed is greater, often leading to weight gain.
Keep reading to learn how to manage an extremely busy schedule and lead a healthy lifestyle with a small amount of planning.
5 Tips for Staying Healthy as a Student:
1. Be prepared.
- Plan your meals/snacks to help save time throughout the week.
- If you are in a dorm, look at the meal schedule and decide which meals you will eat and when you will dine out. Buy healthful snacks that you can take with you when you will be out for a long day, like nuts or fruit.
- If you have a kitchen, make a plan of all of your meals and snacks for the week. Make a grocery list and shop from this list. This type of meal planning will save you time and money.
2. Eat on a schedule. Have 3 meals and 1-2 snacks (Yes, breakfast is important! Keep fruit or nuts in your dorm room, if needed, to jump-start your day.). Eating 1-2 large meals daily rather than several small meals throughout the day decreases attention and is bad for your metabolism. If you are overly hungry (by only eating 1 large meal), it is much more difficult to make good choices and stick to your plan. Research shows that people who eat regular meals and snacks make more healthful choices, including eating more fruits and veggies.
3. Fiber! Many students, due to their busy schedules, are lacking fruits and veggies (a huge source of fiber). Fruits and veggies are not only the best source of antioxidants (keeping your brain in tip-top shape for school), but also are rich in fiber and low in calories which keeps you full on a low calorie budget. Make sure you get your 5-9 servings daily!
4. Drink water! Limit calories from beverages (coffee, tea, soda, lemonade, etc.). Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are not doing your body any justice. Replace them with good ol’ fashioned water and you will feel great!
5. Exercise. Remember, small attainable steps. Walk to class, join yoga, and investigate where the closest gym is—it’s good for the mind and the body.
Sources: Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD of NutritionWise