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Eating right while in college can be difficult. Junk food like pizza, burgers, and fried snacks are readily available on or near campus. Since cooking in dorms is generally prohibited, this leaves few healthy alternatives. The only vegetables in the vicinity may be found in the school’s cafeteria.
Failing to supply the body with the necessary nutrition can lead to all sorts of physical- and mental-health problems. Surviving on fast food may result in illness, fatigue, and other symptoms. College life is stressful enough without putting additional strain on the mind and body.
The situation can be worse for college athletes, who may be under even more pressure than other students. All that stress, along with the physical demands of sports, can be challenging. To stay healthy, and maximize their performance, student-athletes must be deliberate about nutrition.
Eat a Balanced Diet
You have heard it since you were a kid: “Eat your vegetables.” This is especially important for athletes. A variety of veggies, including the super-nutritious leafy ones, should be eaten every day. Fruits, whole grains, and protein are also essential. Avoid fried foods and white bread, and opt for fish instead of red meat a few times a week.
Sugar, salt, and saturated fats sap strength and energy. They also add body fat. These consequences are not only unhealthy; they can diminish an athlete’s performance on the field or court. A long-term effect of consuming large amounts of these substances may be increased vulnerability to illness and disease.
Don’t Forget Breakfast
Nutritionists emphasize the value of eating breakfast. They call it the most important meal of the day, because it replenishes the body after many hours of not eating. The hectic lives of college students require this fuel.
Breakfast is especially critical for those who play sports, as they often have morning practices or workouts. Such exertion on an empty stomach places a lot of strain on the body, which does not respond as well without food energy.
The key is to eat something in the morning, even if you oversleep and are in a hurry. At least grab a bagel and piece of fruit. Always having such ready-to-eat, nutritious items in your dorm room can save you from missing breakfast (or going to a fast-food restaurant). Ideally, the morning meal should include protein (from meat, eggs, and beans) and whole grains, as well as fruit.
Get Enough Protein
Many believe that physically active people should eat a lot of meat and other protein-rich foods. While protein is vital, overdoing it can be counterproductive. Too much protein may result in increased body fat, a loss of calcium, and dehydration. These conditions are particularly undesirable for athletes, who require toned muscles, strong bones, and well-hydrated systems.
The richest sources of protein are fish, beef, pork, and poultry. Dairy is another option. Eggs, as well as the whey protein in milk, are highly recommended. Other foods containing protein are beans, soy, quinoa, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. The best advice is to get protein from a variety of foods.
Those seeking to shed pounds know they need to cut back on carbohydrates, which cause weight gain. However, avoiding carbs can be dangerous because they supply the body with the energy it needs to function properly. Athletes who neglect carbohydrates quickly become tired, and lose strength and endurance.
Carbohydrates are stored in the muscles, in the form of glycogen. The body converts glycogen into glucose (sugar), which boosts energy. Experts say that, for most people, the amount of glycogen the body can hold is enough for a 90-minute workout. Those who play sports, which usually last longer than that, are advised to load up on carbs for several days before the big game. This is really crucial for long-distance runners and bicyclists, swimmers, cross-country skiers, endurance athletes, and others whose activities are not only lengthy but also entail extreme physical exertion.
Candy, soda pop, and other sweets contain a lot of carbohydrates. However, they are considered “bad” carbs because they lack the vitamins and minerals found in “good” (complex) carbs. Whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas (as well as vegetables, fruits, and brown rice) are examples of foods with good carbs.
Experts advise most people to ensure that carbohydrates make up a little more than half of their total food consumption. Athletes may want to increase the percentage somewhat, without getting too carried away. Diets consisting of 70 percent carbs are recommended for endurance athletes and others whose sports involve long, strenuous exercise.
Eat foods rich in carbohydrates before, during, and after intense physical activities. A small, high-carb meal an hour before a game or workout is advised. Pack a whole-grain muffin, sports bar, or fruit juice to refuel during a sports activity. Replenish the body afterword with a high-carb snack.
Drink Plenty of Water
Athletes must keep hydrated. They should drink water, sports drinks, or fruit juice before, during, and after exercising. Moisture lost via perspiration needs to be replaced, or the body will overheat and eventually break down.
Two cups of water before an activity, and at least one-half cup every 15-20 minutes while exercising, are recommended. Some authorities suggest starting with water, then switching to sports drinks because they contain electrolytes.
Keep drinking through a game or match, even when you don’t feel particularly thirsty. Keep an eye on your urine. If it is darker than normal, that could indicate dehydration. Fatigue, dizziness, and upset stomach are other possible signs that you need more water.
Supplement Your Diet
Student-athletes put so much stress on their bodies that they might find it difficult to get sufficient nutrition from food. Dietary supplements can help. Start with a multivitamin that contains not only Vitamins A through D, but also thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. The body uses these substances to convert food into the energy that physically active people need. Look for a multivitamin that also features calcium, iron, and potassium. These nutrients are rapidly diminished while playing sports.
Many other kinds of supplements are also available. Omega-3 oils, found naturally in fish, help to regulate inflammation and blood-sugar levels. Athletes need to get enough magnesium, which strengthens muscles and regulates heart rhythm.
For student-athletes, there are multiple reasons to adopt healthy diets. Without the necessary nutrition, their ability to succeed in sports is hampered. More importantly, their overall health suffers. To maintain strength and energy, it is critical that physically active students take nutrition seriously.
Stress, a poor diet, and partying are common to many students’ lifestyles. However, they are not conducive to good health. College-bound students leaving home for the first time are faced with making their own decisions about many things that affect their well-being. Here are some health tips to consider.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
It should come as no surprise that eating right is at the top of the list of healthy behaviors. The adage “you are what you eat” is true. Your physical and mental resiliency depend upon your body receiving adequate nutrition.
Consuming foods with large amounts of sugar, salt, and saturated fats can compromise your immune system and lead to illness. It also can sap the energy you need to meet all your responsibilities. Your body requires nourishment to deal with the stresses of college life. Eating poorly can lead to obesity, sickness, fatigue, anxiety, and other undesirable conditions.
Most colleges and universities do not allow students to cook food in the dorms. However, you can keep your room stocked with snacks like fruit and nuts. This might help curb the temptation to order pizza or get fast food when you feel hungry.
Make good choices in the school’s cafeteria or dining hall. You have heard it a million times: Eat a balanced diet. That includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein. Make sure you have something from each food group every day. Ideally, the volume of vegetables in your diet should exceed that of meat.
This does not mean you have to survive on tofu and leafy vegetables, though you might be surprised by what you can do with such ingredients. Inevitably, you will eat some pizza, burgers, and fried bar snacks. These foods are linked to opportunities to make friends and socialize, which are important elements of the college experience. Practice moderation when enjoying junk food.
Be creative and find ways to eat your favorite foods in more healthy ways. Order whole-wheat tortillas and pizza crusts when they are available. Include vegetables in your pizza ingredients. Ask for low-fat white, rather than yellow, cheese; and choose chicken instead of beef or pork. Opt for baked, rather than fried, food.
Breakfast is important. You need an energy boost after many hours of not giving your body any fuel. Eat a bowl of healthy cereal or granola, or at least grab some fruit (and perhaps a whole-grain bagel) on the way out the door.
Drink water frequently, even if you are not thirsty. You may find that you feel better and eat less. Take it easy on the caffeine. While a little of this stimulant can be beneficial, consuming too much is counterproductive and potentially dangerous. The same is true of sodas and other beverages containing large amounts of sugar.
Your body needs a variety of nutrients, so don’t eat exactly the same foods every day. If you are trying to lose weight, be mindful of portion sizes but eat plenty of veggies and get enough protein. Never go on a crash diet. The weight you lose will probably return soon, and in the meantime you will have compromised your health.
There are some other ways to ward off illness, boost energy, and stay in shape. One of the best methods is getting some exercise every day. Walking from your room to classes is not enough. Take longer walks, jog, ride a bicycle, go to a gym, or play a sport.
Between studying and socializing, you may not think you have time to exercise. All it takes is about 20 minutes every day, which is not that hard to fit into your schedule.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Many people do not appreciate the importance of sleep. You need to get at least seven hours of sleep per day. If you don’t, it will be harder to stay alert and focus on your studies.
Sleep deprivation may cause fatigue, headaches, and depression. Your relationships, as well as your grades, could suffer. If you are not getting enough sleep at night, try to take an afternoon nap. Avoid caffeine and sugar for at least a few hours before going to bed.
4. Take Precautions
College classes are in session during the winter, when the most illnesses occur. As a student, you are in close contact with numerous people. It is crucial to protect yourself from viruses and other infectious diseases.
Wash your hands often, especially after touching door knobs and other objects with which many people come in contact. This will keep you from catching most contagions. Get a flu shot, or choose an herbal alternative, to keep yourself from catching a bug. Obtain appropriate vaccinations. Take Vitamin C and antioxidants.
5. Cope with Stress
College life is stressful. Living away from home, dealing with new people, is hard enough. Studying and taking tests create additional anxiety. The college life challenges your mental, as well as physical, health.
Diet, exercise, and sleep are critical to managing stress. Take breaks when you feel overwhelmed. Switch from studying to playing a game or watching a video. Gain some perspective and relax. Spend some time outdoors every day. Find balance by connecting with nature.
Compartmentalize the things that cause you stress. Figure out what you need to do, a step at a time. Set priorities and short-term, attainable goals. Try to transcend the anxiety and look at things logically. Remember that your fellow students are having the same problems. Share your feelings with them, as well as with other friends and family members. Try meditation, yoga, or a hobby. Do not hesitate to speak with a counselor.
6. Avoid Risky Behaviors
Many college-bound students are excited about their new experience for the wrong reasons. They may be looking forward to partying and having sex. They are at an age when experimentation is normal, but it is vital to know how to stay safe.
Parties featuring beer or liquor are common on, or near, most campuses. You are likely to find yourself at such a party. If you are of legal age and choose to drink, know your limit to ensure that you remain aware and in control. Have a designated driver.
Illegal drugs also may be available. The obvious advice is to refrain from taking them. If you do decide to experiment, understand the effects of the drugs and the risks involved. Remember that what you are doing is against the law, and may result in bad decisions and unwanted consequences.
Another part of the college experience is dating. Some students meet their life-long partners in school. It is easier to find people with common interests in college than it was in high school. Students who make the decision to have sex should use protection, get tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases, and go to doctors for exams and vaccinations.
7. Other Tips
If you smoke tobacco, figure out a way to quit. Your performance in school, as well as your health, may benefit from doing so. Find healthy alternatives to nicotine to provide the stimulation you crave.
Support your feet by wearing good shoes rather than sandals. You are likely to be doing a lot of walking, going to classes and moving around campus. Do not let aching or injured feet slow you down.
Give your back a break by minimizing the weight of your backpack. You don’t have to carry all your books, all the time. Do some stretching before heading out on a long walk or beginning your daily exercise regimen.
Communicate your needs to roommates. Coordinate times for studying and sleeping. Maintaining good relations with your roomies also enhances your mental health.
Resist excessive tanning because of the risk of getting skin cancer. If you do lay out, use sunscreen. Daily applications of aloe vera or other moisturizer help prevent skin from burning or getting too dry.
These tips can help you maintain mental and physical health during your college years. By eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and managing stress, you get the most out of the experience. Your relationships and grades will benefit.
In many areas of life, stress is inevitable. For college students this can be a major problem since many of them are not prepared for what they will face. College is a whole new ball game, with a much heavier workload and additional responsibilities. Many college students have to find jobs on or off campus. Going to work, attending classes regularly and turning assignments in on time can prove to be too much for some people.
Even college students who are not working can be overwhelmed by their studies. Scholarship students especially have a lot of pressure placed on them to maintain good grades. The harder some students work, the higher their stress level gets. At some point, stress can become a health risk, and it can even lead some people to contemplate suicide. The following tips can help college students beat stress:
Learn to go easy on yourself
This might seem simple, but it is an important way to avoid stress buildup. Missed deadlines can happen to anyone, so do not panic, and try not to be angry with yourself. Instead, learn from it and try to do better in the future. Failing an exam or getting a low grade is also no reason to beat up on yourself. When you do not perform as well as you wish, take it in stride and try to do better next time.
Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep is something that many college students can relate to as they work to achieve their goal. Adequate rest is essential for good health, especially mental health. Lack of sleep can affect our moods, making us irritable and prevent us from dealing with problems in the right way. People who get enough sleep are able to concentrate better in class and they are generally more relaxed.
Have a good diet
Many college students eat a lot of junk food because it is cheaper or sometimes more convenient. The brain needs the right amount of nutrients to function properly. Try to have fruits and vegetables every day, and take a multivitamin if necessary. Eating whole grain foods is also a good idea for the college student. A body that is properly fed is better at dealing with stressful situations.
Hanging out with friends is a great way to deal with the pressure of being in college. Sometimes it is good to have fun and to not think about the things that are bothering you. Even studying together as a group can be a fun activity and helps to make the workload easier. You can also look for clubs on campus that will allow you to spend time with other people in a setting that has nothing to do with the classroom.
Talk to someone
If you feel like you are under too much stress, it helps if you share this with someone. This person can be a lecturer, a faculty advisor or even a close friend. Sometimes it is good to get problems off your chest by talking. Communicating with others can help you to feel better, resulting in you feeling less stressed.
Look at your workload
It is possible that you are taking more courses than you can handle. This is an easy way to fall into the stress trap. It is s good idea to look at the courses you are taking and dropping one or two to make your coursework more manageable. It may even be necessary to sit out a semester to give yourself time to recuperate and get back on track. The important thing is to ensure that doing this will not put your credits below the number that you need to graduate.
Spend some time alone
While being with friends can be good, sometimes distance from other people is just as beneficial. It is a good idea to be alone for a while just to relax or to think about the problems that make you feel stressed. You might even come up your own ideas to help you manage your stress.
Studies have shown that exercise promotes good mental health. Vigorous exercise improves blood flow, and can help to improve your mood. Some people actually go to the gym to relieve stress. At many colleges, gym membership is free or very reasonably priced for students.
Some people meditate to help to clear their minds and leave their stress behind. Others start to take music lessons or a new sport. Whichever method is chosen, the goal is always the same; mastering the demon called stress. If you fail to control this problem, it could cause you to fail in college and prevent you from reaching your goals.
Boost Academic Performance by Eating Healthy
Numerous studies have validated the claim that healthy eating boosts academic performance. Students who do not eat breakfast tend to have difficulty in memorizing and paying attention in class. A recent study in Canada followed 6000 students in Toronto schools and showed positive results. 70% said having breakfast boosted their energy levels while 61% exceeded provincial reading standards. Countless studies have also been conducted in the US which also further help in pointing that a well-balanced nutritional diet boosts academic performance and overall health of students in high school.
Mixed-Grain Diet and Cognitive Functioning
Mixed-grain diet has found out to improve cognitive performance in students. A study conducted in 2012 revealed less mental fatigue and higher level of protein in the brain, by eating mixed grains, indicating a healthy brain. Sugary sodas and a junky diet cause childhood obesity which decreases cognitive functioning.
Poor Nutrition and Lower Test Performance
Poor nutrition produces a stress hormone cortisol in excess. This hormone affects the brain and impairs learning, memorizing, paying attention and controlling impulse. Students who eat unhygienic, highly processed poor food have been found to score less on tests and exhibit behavior problems compared to well-nourished students.
A study conducted in 2011 found that drinking milk is associated with better performance. Sweetened beverages tend to impair alertness and understanding. In the study, students who ate regular breakfast scored higher on math tests compared to those who skip on their breakfasts. Other factors which help boost performance on tests include physical activity and eating healthy food.
Regular Breakfast Improves Memory
Regular breakfast no wonder provides with the required nutrition to function properly through the day. One study conducted by Gregory Phillips of college students showed that those who ate breakfast regularly passed their biology exam. It is also recommended to have a snack in between breakfast and lunch. Having a mid morning snack actually improves memory. Blueberries and yoghurt have been linked to improve memory in some studies. A hardboiled egg is also good to have in breakfast as it contains choline, a nutrient which has been found to improve memory in animal studies.
Proper Nutrition Helps Stay Alert
Inadequate nutrition, calories and junk food makes students feel lethargic and participate less in school activities. Eating proper, healthy and hygienic food prevents them from falling ill and helps them stay alert in school and focus on lectures and understand better. It helps the student to be more positive and show enthusiasm for a better learning.
Food Quality and Academic Performance
Spanish studies have found out that the quality of food students has also affected their performance academically. The study showed a direct relationship between food quality and academic performance. As food quality increased, students academic performance also increased. Certain mental processes such as comprehension, memory and concentrationwere affected more than others when food quality differed.
Physical Activity is also Important
Countless studies validate that eating healthy improves functioning of the brain. It helps the mental processes in understanding, interpreting, focusing and keeping alert in school thus, improving academic performance. Proper nutrition is like food to the brain and a balanced diet keeps students both active and prevents them from feeling tired.
Apart from maintaining a healthy diet, daily physical activities are necessary. Eating right is one part of the game, but if students take part in extracurricular activities and stay physically active and fit, studies have found them to perform better in classes. It improves attention and concentration in class. The oxygen which reaches the brain helps with better functioning and also prevents obesity in students.