If you’re a college freshman – heck, even a college senior – you will probably know what it’s like heading back to school. As a matter of fact, you may be living it right now. You’re probably getting used to your post-summer schedule/routine, meeting old and new friends but feeling at least the teensiest bit frazzled.
Oftentimes, the combination of living on campus, being thrust into social situations and stress can lead to less than desirable eating and healthy lifestyle habits. And, you know what this leads to? The dreaded “Freshman 15“.
The phrase comes from the idea of gaining (on average) 15 pounds when you move away from home and don’t have your mom cooking you home-cooked meals or being forced to go to P.E. While this certainly is not the case for everyone and it doesn’t necessarily only happen during freshman year, we want to make sure you have covered all your bases for a healthy four years (and beyond).
Take a look at the best steps to follow to make sure you are feeling like your best self while making the most of your college experience.
- Eat Breakfast – It’s certainly tempting to get as much sleep as possible instead of waking up for a bowl of cereal because you were skimping on Zzz’s (we’ll get to that later) but eating breakfast is very important. And this is doubly important when you are required to attend a morning class that involves your undivided attention (and note-taking skills). You should aim to have a meal within an hour of waking up to make sure your metabolism is revved up and you are feeling like your best self for a day of learning. Skipping this meal will mean feeling sleepier, cause embarrassing stomach grumbling in class and getting hungrier later on in the day – leading to unnecessary snacking. Instead, opt for something easy like yogurt and fruit or toast, peanut butter and banana. These require zero cooking, too!
- Buy A Water Bottle– Buy a water bottle – preferably a CamelBak – and carry it around with you throughout the day. Fill it up regularly and drink at least 3 liters daily. You will stay hydrated, feel less hungry and even less fatigued if you make sure you are getting in the sufficient amount of H20!
- Limit Your Drinking – Believe me. I know better than most how a severe case of FOMOs can lead to regular binge drinking. While it might be tempting to go out every night of the week, try saving the partying for once a week or once every 2 weeks. This doesn’t mean it’s a free pass to go all out with the beverages when you do go out, however. Limit drinks to 2, maybe 3 so it doesn’t get out of hand. Not only does alcohol lead to late night munchies, but they’re also a whole lot of calories with each drink usually averaging 150-200 + calories.
- Make All Your Plates Perfectly Proportioned– You are still young and probably have a metabolism that’s fairly in shape. I would certainly advise against going to the extreme spectrums of dieting. You don’t want to be eating bags of Doritos at 3 AM but you also don’t want to stick to a diet of chicken and boiled vegetables. I assure you that’s the first way to go absolutely mad! It’s better to have a well-balanced diet with perfectly proportioned macronutrients. For example, you should make sure each meal has protein, carbs and fat. A great government resource would be Choose My Plate which gives you an idea of what your plates should look like.
- Get in 30 Minutes Of Physical Activity Minimum – You might not want to become a slave to the gym because you’re too busy spending hours on your thesis or internship, but try to fit in at least 30 minutes of walking daily. Try to get in your 10,000 steps or start running 3-5 days a week. Maybe you want to join a pilates or yoga studio. If you’re lucky enough to have a gym on your campus or in your dorm use it. Get your money’s worth! You are still young and this is the perfect time to start your love affair with fitness. Some colleges have sports teams or affordable recreational/weekend opportunities, too – like hiking retreats. Take full advantage of it because I promise things only get more expensive as you get older.
- Get Organized With A Schedule– This has some to do with personality type, but in general, most people who are disorganized have a hard time sticking to their tasks for school – let alone a gym schedule or making time to buy groceries (even if it is for their mini fridge). Start using a day planner – either physical or mobile – and start penciling in important to-dos. Color coordinate your study times from your workout times or personal to-dos. It’s the best way to get focused!
- Clean Up – You may be wondering what being “clean” has to do with being healthy, but we promise there’s a huge correlation. I have seen many a dorm room that I would never even want to sleep in, let alone eat in. With dishes piled high, musky smells and trash bins that look like they haven’t been taken out in months, you will be less inclined to spend time zenning out in your space or cooking meals if your area seems uninhabitable.
- Always Be Prepared – Snack attacks happen, and they shouldn’t be ignored. Often it’s easy to either try to ignore them and power through the hunger or fall at its feet and snack on everything. It’s important to balance this out. Your body doesn’t lie to you. If you feel hungry enough that even 1 apple would suffice you are actually hungry. In situations like this you should always have some cut up fruit, veggies, hummus, peanut butter or nuts on hand. If you have a hankering for chocolate or something greasy and nothing else seems to be able to satisfy it, then it’s an emotional craving. This is often caused by stressed. Luckily for you, these are 12 foods that are natural stress relievers.
- Get Enough Sleep – I remember my first year of college when I would procrastinate on all my homework and projects and would regularly pull all nighters. That was no good. No good at all. It would make me tired, less productive, lead to over-caffeination and all night snacking. Make sure you get in at least 8-10 hours of sleep a night. 6 at the bare minimum!
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What are some healthy college tips you would recommend?