College can be a health and fitness minefield for students. Unless they’re involved in athletics, it’s incumbent upon students to make time for the gym and physical activities—but it’s easy to skip that gym session in favor of unplanned hangouts, videogames, and cram sessions. The dining hall is a source of ample, accessible fruits and veggies—as well as pizza, soft serve, and waffle fries. What’s a student to do? Sharon Richter, registered dietician and a staple of media experts, shares her top tips for running through that minefield unscathed.
1. Don't skip breakfast
It’s called the most important meal of the day for a reason. Would you start your car without any fuel? No, so why start your day that way? Ideally, your breakfast will include some protein: eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, nut butters, and whole grain carbs should do the trick.
2. Stock up on snacks
If you keep healthy snacks on hand, you will better equipped to avoid the high fat/sugar temptations. (Some of my favorites are KIND nut and spice bars, edamame, individual squeeze packets of almond and peanut butter, fruit leathers, and raw nuts.) Look for items with less than 10g of sugar and more than 3g of fiber.
3. Sneak fitness in
Sometimes hitting the gym is hard to fit into a busy college schedule, so make a plan to do outdoor activities with friends or join an intramural group
Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink. Start first thing in the morning, and keep a bottle of water on you all day. It helps muscle tone, skin, weight maintenance, and more.
5. Don’t blow it on the buffet
You might have all healthy food options on your plate, but too much of a good thing can go wrong. Think of your plate as if you ordered in a restaurant: one serving each of protein, whole grains, and vegetables.
Feeling sleepy while studying? Take a walk and get some air. And learn to breathe deeply—inhaling through your nose, exhaling slowly through your mouth—to stay calm and focused.
Over 21? You may find yourself imbibing alcoholic beverages. If that’s the case, don’t mix drinks and rotate water/alcohol/water.
8. Eat small, frequent meals
This can be as simple as eating half a sandwich for lunch and the other half a few hours later. Or having a yogurt for breakfast and putting a healthy cereal in a baggie or some raw nuts for a mid-morning snack.
Major for health! You release hormones when you are in a deep sleep that help maintain a healthy weight. Deprivation can lead to disaster!
Never-ending diets are not the key to health. If 80% of the time you eat a balanced diet, 20% you can splurge.