College is an exciting and inspiring experience for students. The years spent studying can shape your future and help you form important habits.
Though your college years are full of opportunity, they’re also full of challenges. Some of the challenges can be a positive learning curve, and others can be hazardous to your health if you aren’t prepared to prevent them and cope with them as they arise.
Attending college becomes a lifestyle that offers a new, focused routine. Students often become so caught up in their studies, however, that they forget to take care of themselves. You may find you forget to eat well, exercise regularly, or take time for yourself to do things you enjoy. Neglecting your health can negatively impact your studies and hard work.
Fortunately, if you want to learn how to eat healthy or lose weight in college, we have compiled some of the best healthy living tips. Try following some of these to ensure you’re able to perform your best during your college years.
How to Eat Healthy in College
College may be the first time you’ve been required to completely fend for yourself when it comes to meals. Keep these tips in mind to make sure you keep yourself fueled the healthy way:
1. Resist Repetition
It’s easy for students to get into a routine, especially when it comes to meals. You may not think you have time to plan for a new meal every evening, but there are simple ways to prep ahead of time. You want to make sure you are getting a varied diet. By cooking larger meals every couple days, you can save some for leftovers but still make sure you’re changing it up.
2. Don’t Skip Breakfast
We’ve all heard it before, but it’s true: Breakfast is the most important meal. It sets the tone for the day and provides you with enough energy to make it through to the afternoon. If you aren’t someone who can choke down a full meal in the morning, try smoothie recipes instead.
3. Everything in Moderation
When you feel stressed, it’s easy to binge eat on your new favorite snack of the week. However, eating large portions at once can isn’t a healthy habit. Try to keep track of the different food groups you’re eating and how big the portions are.
4. Pack Smaller Snacks
If you feel hunger pangs throughout the day, prepare smaller snack foods to bring with you to class. Eating smaller, healthy, and natural snack foods throughout the day will keep up your energy and focus.
5. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water each day will prevent you from binge eating at any meal. It will also help keep your energy levels up, so be sure to pack it with you to class.
6. Eat Your Fruit and Veggies
Natural sugars from fruits and vegetables as well as other important nutrients will leave you feeling fuller longer — and with more energy.
7. Watch Your Alcohol Consumption
Consuming too much alcohol can have a damaging effect on your health. It contains way more calories than you think it does. It can also cause dehydration, and of course, a potential hangover. Not to mention it’s terrible for your liver. If you do drink alcohol, don’t overdo it.
8. Vitamins Are Your Friends
Your present diet may not be providing you with enough nutrition. Multi-vitamins are an easy way to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
9. Fast Food Isn’t Better Food
Many college students end up relying on fast food as their primary diet. This isn’t a sustainable way of living. While it may more convenient, ultimately it will impact your health. A little bit here and there is fine, but try not to rely on it for regular meals.
10. Avoid Vending Machines
Similar to fast food, vending machines offer the same convenience. However, they rarely contain anything worth consuming. It’s better to stick with your own snacks from home.
11. Don’t Eat After 8:00 PM
By finishing dinner before 8:00 p.m., you’re giving your body enough time to digest before it hits sleep mode. Making late night eating a regular habit is a sure way to put on the pounds.
Exercise Tips for College Students
In addition to eating well, you also want to make sure you exercise. It may be difficult to find the time to do it, but here are some tips to help:
12. Workout First Thing in the Morning
An early morning workout can start the day off right, and it can give you momentum to make it through the rest. By forcing yourself to work out in the morning, it’s also often easier to make sure you get your exercise in — rather than trying to cram it in after class when you’re likely tired.
13. Get a Gym Buddy
Plan your gym sessions with a friend. This will ensure you each have someone to rely on and hold each other accountable for your workouts.
14. Buy Good Gear
Having good quality gym attire and gear makes you feel positive about yourself. It also makes you want to hit the gym more.
15. Do Your Stretches
Regular stretching is good for muscle health, blood circulation, and injury prevention. You should stretch daily and especially before working out.
16. Try a Fitness Class
Not a fan of the gym? Many people aren’t! Try a class instead, like spinning, Zumba, yoga, or Pilates. These classes give you a great workout and are fun and challenging. It’s often easier to work out when you have a teacher guiding you.
17. Join a Sports Team
Intramural sports teams are a fun part of college life. They help you meet new people, get involved in the school, and exercise all at once.
18. Walk to Class or Park Far Away
They say you should hit 10,000 steps per day, but for many people with a sedentary lifestyle, this can be difficult to achieve. However, if you slightly alter some of your daily habits, you can maximize your step count. By taking the long way to class or parking farther away from school, you can add many more steps to your day. Just make sure you give yourself more time to get to class.
19. Get a Bike
Choose to bike to school instead of driving or taking the bus. You can start out by setting a goal of doing this once a week, and then build on it from there.
20. Dorm Room Workout
Develop your own exercise routine you can do in your dorm room or other small living space. A routine of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges can help you to squeak in your exercise during your busy schedule.
Sleep Tips for College Students
When you’re trying to cram before your midterm, sleep often goes by the wayside. However, you still want to make sure you get adequate rest:
21. Prioritize Sleep
Proper sleep is one of the most important habits you can develop. Yet, it’s often the most sacrificed in college. According to one study, 70 percent of students reported not getting enough regular sleep. It’s important to make sleep a priority for your immediate and long-term health.
22. Master the Power Nap
If you get home from class feeling exhausted, a quick power nap can boost your energy levels before you need to tackle your homework. Set your alarm for 20 minutes to give yourself enough time to fall asleep without feeling groggy when you wake up.
23. Invest in a Good Mattress
The right mattress for your sleep patterns can make a huge difference. You’ll want to consider the kinds of materials that feel comfortable for you as well as any back and neck pain you may suffer from. Consult an expert before making such a big purchase.
24. Use the Right Kind of Pillow
There are pillows designed for back, stomach, or side sleepers. They come in different shapes and materials. Selecting the right pillow can prevent you from tossing and turning and being disrupted during the night.
25. Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary
Make sure your room is as dark as possible. You should also keep it quiet and cool. These are all ideal conditions in which you can sleep properly and wake up feeling rested.
26. Turn off Your Devices 30 Minutes Before Bed
It’s tempting to sit in bed with your phone or computer and browse through Facebook and Instagram. However, the light emitted by the device’s screen can stimulate your brain, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
27. Don’t Consume Caffeine in the Evenings
The effects of caffeine can linger for some time. Try cutting off your caffeine intake by the early afternoon so it doesn’t inhibit your sleep pattern.
28. Set a Bedtime Routine
Having a set nightly routine before bed will send signals to your body to start shutting down for the night. Try listening to calm music, reading a book, or drinking warm milk or water after you’ve gotten in your PJs.
29. Set a Bedtime
Set a goal for yourself to be in bed by the same time every night. Give yourself between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night.
30. Don’t Pull All-Nighters
You may think an all-nighter is the only way to prepare for exams or to finish a project, but this isn’t true. All-nighters, especially when done regularly, can severely damage your health and weaken your immune system.
Immune System Health Tips for College Students
Germs are no one’s friend, but they’re really no good in college. Keep these tips in mind to help those unwanted germs stay away:
31. Wash Your Hands
There are countless surfaces you touch that are shared with others at school. This is why it’s critical to develop a good hand washing routine. This simple habit will prevent a number of illnesses.
32. Carry Hand Sanitizer
Can’t get to a sink before you eat? Pack hand sanitizer to quickly clean your hands before eating your meals. Use this after you’ve shared any items with others as well.
33. Don’t Share
An easy way to prevent the spread of illness is to avoid sharing items with others. This can include school supplies, books, food, or drinks.
34. Take a Sick Day
If you are legitimately feeling an illness coming on, then its best to stay home. Pushing yourself can bring it on further and spread your sickness to others.
35. Get Immunized
Most immunizations were received as children, but there are some specifically for college students. A physician can tell you which ones need to be updated.
36. Drink Herbal Tea
Proper immune system function is important for warding off illness and preventing fatigue. Herbal teas like dandelion, chamomile, and ginseng can help boost your immune system for better health.
37. See a Doctor
If you are feeling under the weather, it’s always best to check with a doctor first. You may not think it’s anything major, but sometimes you can develop infections you aren’t aware of. Left unchecked, these can be very serious. A doctor can help you get what you need to get back on track.
38. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is one of the worst habits you can develop. Not only does it create long-term health problems, but it can also impair your immune system’s health.
39. Take Nutritional Supplements
Certain nutritional supplements, like zinc, probiotics, and Echinacea, can help boost your immune system. Consult a doctor before taking any supplements, though, as they may interfere with existing medications you’re taking.
40. Stay Active and Eat Right
By following the diet and exercise tips, you can help your body stay healthy and fight off illness. These need to be part of your daily habits to remain at your healthiest level.
Mental Health Tips for College Students
You have a lot on your mind as a college student, and these tips can help you stay on top of it all:
41. Know Your Limit
Every college student experiences a point when they’ve reached their max. Once you hit this point, you can start setting limits for yourself to prevent burnout moving forward. Set restrictions on work hours and stick with them.
42. Don’t Procrastinate
Putting off important and unpleasant tasks is a natural thing to do, but it’s a habit that can leave you feeling stressed and anxious. It can affect your confidence as well. So try prioritizing the hard stuff first — you’ll feel a huge sense of relief when it’s over.
43. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Developing positive mental health practices like relaxation exercise, meditation, and deep breathing can help keep you calm throughout the day. It’s especially important to practice these when you start to feel stressed or anxious.
44. Surround Yourself With Positive Classmates
In college, you will meet many new people, and some will be a positive influence. Identify these people early on and make a point of spending time with them. It will help reduce your stress levels and build your confidence.
45. Take Breaks
When working on projects or homework, set increments of time for work and for breaks. Use an alarm if you need to, but be sure to remember to pause your work every now and then.
46. Follow a Routine
Implementing a daily routine that incorporates as many of these tips as possible will help create mental balance and well-being in your life.
47. Get a Hobby
Hobbies are a good way to develop a creative side or to release stress. By trying new things, you may end up developing a passion — or at least impressing your friends.
48. Don’t Rush out the Door
Make sure to give yourself lots of time in the morning to get ready and get out the door. Leaving yourself feeling stressed every morning to make it to school on time can take its toll on your mental health. Try not to do this to yourself daily.
49. Develop Time Management Skills
Time management is key. You will be very busy and have lots of responsibilities. Being aware of everything that needs to be done and making a plan to accomplish it all is the best way to prevent stress and burnout.
Emotional Well-Being Tips for College Students
Your emotional health and self-confidence are vital to your success in college and life. Ensure they are where they should be with the following tips:
50. Talk it Out
College is an exciting time for many students, but it can also be overwhelming. Many students feel signs of depression, anxiety, or other mental health complications. According to a study from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, 42.2 percent of students surveyed had reported a diagnosis of at least one mental health condition in their lifetime. If you believe you’re experiencing depression or anxiety, it’s best to see a therapist.
51. Volunteer Your Time
The quickest way to feel happy and good about yourself is to give back to others. Find a cause you believe in, and donate your time to helping others. The positivity you feel from volunteering will improve all areas of your life.
52. Set Personal Goals
You likely have a general idea of what it is you want to achieve in school and in your personal life. Make these goals as specific as possible. Write them down and look at them daily. This will help keep you on track when things get challenging.
53. Embrace Change
College is a new experience for everyone, and it can seem scary and uncomfortable at first. Try to not to let it overwhelm you, though. Instead, embrace the change, and don’t get caught up in the little things that stress you out. These experiences only help you grow.
54. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
We tend to beat ourselves up when things don’t go the way we planned, but don’t get discouraged — the world isn’t going to end. Find the opportunity to learn from every situation, and remember that eventually the dots will all connect.
Your experience in college is exciting and rewarding. The challenges you face all end up paying off in the end when you can look back and see what you’ve accomplished. Remember to work hard, try your best, and most of all, enjoy it.
*The information contained in this blog is not intended to be construed in any manner as medical advice. Therefore, please read our blog and use the information that you derive from it appropriately and at your own risk.