Health

Read blogs in our health category for information and advice on how to keep a healthy mind and body during college.

5 Ways to Survive the Stress of College

College is the best of times and the worst of times. Close friends, bad food, and memories to last a lifetime. College is also a ton of work whether it is yet another essay, pages of homework, or staying up all night finishing a group assignment that you have not started until that night, the workload is more than enough to cause stress. Here are five easy and helpful tips to see next semester with gratitude instead of attitude.

Organize and Plan
Keeping everything clean and easy to find is a simple way to experience less stress. Buy a binder or folders to keep the classes separate and to have a central location to put all of the papers. It also may be worthwhile to buy a planner or to use the calendar on your phone to remind you of assignments. Find what works best for you and invest in organizing yourself. Same goes with your computer. Create folders on your computer to have a location to save to when you are working on something digital. No more putting everything in your downloads and searching for the date modified instead of the arbitrary title you named it.

Studying can be boring and monotonous at times but try different studying methods to boost your morale. The Pomodoro Technique is the one I use which is to put a timer for 25 minutes and with zero distractions, you start your work. Go at your own pace but make sure you have everything on do not disturb so nothing will tempt you to sway away from work. After the timer goes off, you have five minutes to do what ever you need to do and then set another 25 minutes to work. This allows you to be efficient with the time you are offering yourself and still have some time for cat videos.

For your own mental sanity, set aside time to work and play every day. Have a goal in mind and when that is complete, go reward yourself with doing something you love. Psychologically, a reward system to finishing work provides the great benefits and little residual damage from the labor.

Exercise
Getting the heart pumping can be a great way to relieve stress when college has you down. Going for a run, lifting weights, or dancing for a period of time can help to reset your mind and body to attack the day with relentless optimism. Not to mention it regulates your sleep cycle, metabolism and energy. Would it not be great if you did not have to drink four cups of coffee throughout the day? Exercise may just be the answer you are looking for to obtain more energy for your day.

 

 

Meditation
Simply breathing can make a world of difference for your mindset. Meditating every day can provide positive benefits such as an increase in happiness, self-awareness, and concentration. It also decreases stress, anxiety, and aging. “Meditation is mind without agitation,” Narasimhan says. When it comes to stress, we could all use a mind without unnecessary turbulence. Reminding yourself what your purpose is and aligning your values through breathing often can make your motivation unstoppable.

If you do not have time for simple meditation, get credit for it. Most Universities have stress management courses offered in their curriculum. The class is an easy three elective credits and truly does assist you in your college journey. Look for it under the social work category of classes.

GET MORE SLEEP
I know this sounds a little counter-intuitive. Getting less time to do more work? Sleep holds amazing benefits that we have grown to forget. The simple method here is to be more productive, sleep more. When we lack sleep, our quality of work decreases. You may be doing a lot of work but probably not a lot of quality work. There are serious health problems with sleep deprivation such as trouble concentrating, high blood pressure, risk for diabetes, risk of heart disease, weakened immunity, and weight gain. Basically throwing all the benefits of meditation and exercise away because you are not sleeping enough. Take the time needed each night and get a full eight hours (or as close to as you can) of sleep. Tiredness is not a trophy and it is something we should not be striving for.

 

Do Something Creative

This one is easy. Every person has their form of art be it painting, drawing, playing an instrument, cooking, or underwater basket weaving. Setting time aside every day to mastering your craft is a fun way to relieve stress and increase overall well-being. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, engaging in just one creative activity each day can make you more likely to feel “energetic, enthusiastic, [and] excited.” It goes on to say, “Overall, these findings support the emerging emphasis on everyday creativity as a means of cultivating positive psychological functioning.” There you go, science has now supported the idea of creating art for clear benefits. Get working and create something beautiful.

College is an adventurous odyssey filled with self-discovery and a metric ton of ramen noodles. It is a lot of seemingly unnecessary work and stress but it is all worth it in the end. Hopefully with these simple methods of stress management, college will be more of a positive experience.

Creating a Gratitude Journal

Journal

Through the hustle and bustle of everyday life – between work, school, internships, and trying to have an amazing summer – it’s easy to lose focus and take the little things for granted. With creating a gratitude journal, anyone can easily add a little positiveness to each day. Having trouble getting started? Here are a few tips.

Find a Notebook You Love

This may sound silly, but it is vital. Search for a notebook that shows off your style; one that generates happy thoughts. You can also buy a blank notebook and create your own cover similar to an inspiration board. This is something you can be creative with because it’s all about you. It’s important to have a notebook that you won’t mind carrying around with you or having on your bedside table. You will encounter it a lot – so make sure you like it.

How Much Time to Spend

Writing in your journal everyday is ideal for beginners. This will help kick-off your positive lifestyle and make it easier to adjust to writing about yourself in a journal. Most people advise to write 5-10 things you’re grateful for a day – which is a great guideline – but if some days you have less than five and others you have more than 10, that’s perfectly fine. No two days are the same, therefore you shouldn’t restrict your amount of grateful moments.

Be Specific

When it comes to writing down your ideas, it’s easiest to use bullet points. This breaks up your thoughts and makes them easier to comprehend when you go back and read your entries. However, be specific with your bullet points. Don’t just say that you’re grateful for your job – provide a detailed example. Like that you’re grateful for your job because it’s payday, or you’re grateful for it because it’s brought you great coworkers that cheered you up today. Being specific will pay off when you reminisce on your memories.

Nothing is Unimportant and Keep the Negative Out

If you are grateful for the amazing sandwich you had for lunch, or for the lady who held the door for you at the local coffee shop – write it down. This helps you find positive moments in every situation. And of course, any negative thoughts you have throughout the day do not belong in this journal. This is specifically for happy and grateful thoughts or memories!

If you’re looking for a new way to find joy in every situation, try a gratitude journal. It helps you focus on the little things that make every day great, and it’s a creative way to keep track of your thoughts.

Surviving Severe Weather in College

Springtime is once again upon us. Although the warm weather is a welcome change, for many Midwestern states spring also means the return of severe weather. If you live in the Midwest, you were likely taught from a young age where to go in your house should a storm occur. But what about when you’re away at school? Here are a few tips for surviving sever weather at college.

Lightning

Dorms

Most college dorms are well equipped for severe weather. Dorm rooms typically have an alarm system installed with distinctive sounds for both fire and weather related emergencies. Also, much like hotels, you can usually find a map of the building with instructions about where to go if a tornado occurs. If not, ask your resident assistant or building manager where the safe space in the building is and the safest route to get there. A few things to keep in mind when living in dorms:

  • You will occasionally have drills to practice evacuations. Even if you know it is a drill, you need to take the time to follow instructions and practice. Yes, it can be inconvenient when you are studying, but it is necessary to prepare.
  • Always take your room key with you when the alarm goes off. Resident assistants may check rooms to make sure everyone evacuated. If you don’t have your keys, you may find yourself stuck outside if they lock the door behind them.
  • Make sure you know where your roommates are during emergencies. If they are not in the building, text or call them to make sure they know to take cover from the severe weather.

Off-Campus Housing

Preparing for severe weather when living off campus is a little bit harder. It is your own responsibility to monitor the weather and know when it is time to head to the safe space. A great way to keep tabs on the weather is by purchasing a weather radio.NOAA Weather Radio

An NOAA weather radio links to the national weather monitoring systems and sets off an alarm if there is severe weather in your current location. The device plugs into a wall outlet, but in an emergency can run off battery power so that you can take it with you to your safe space. Weather radios are small, useful devices and are available at most all major retailers for about $25-$30. This item is a must if you live in severe weather prone areas.

A few other things to keep in mind when living off campus:

  • Ask your building manager or landlord where the safe space for your apartment is at. If there is not a designated space, follow these guidelines for taking shelter.
  • If you have to leave your apartment to get to your safe space, be sure to lock the door behind you. Take your key and wallet with you in case you need them.
  • Your neighbors may not be as prepared as you during a severe weather emergency. If it is safe to do so, check on your neighbors to make sure they are aware of the severe weather threat and help them get to the safe space as well.

During Class

Severe weather can hit during any time of the day. You may occasionally find yourself in class when an emergency occurs. Like dorms, college academic buildings are usually very well equipped with alarms and labeled safe spaces. Your professor should know exactly where to go during an emergency so listen carefully for instructions and follow them promptly.

NOTE: Do not leave the group unless your instructor gives you permission. Most colleges require instructors to take attendance as a way to keep track of students during emergencies. If you are present for attendance and then split from the group during an emergency, your professor will be unable to locate you and could cause an unnecessary manhunt.

On the long list of things to prepare for in college, severe weather is one of the most important. However, it is also one of the most overlooked. With a little preparation you can be ready for any emergency. For more information about severe weather preparedness check out The National Weather Service’s website.

Learning to Understand

Knowledge is a trait that we aim to possess. This is exemplified merely by the fact that we’re students. We’re constantly taking in new information and either storing it in our memory to spit out later on exams or losing it in the process of daily living. However, though we might feel that knowledge is optimal, we often forget about the tool that allows us to access and utilize knowledge. The ability to understand, not just know, is incredibly powerful for living a worthwhile life. This year, I dare you to learn how to understand.

1) Understand Others

Understand Others

Part of human nature is having opinions. However, especially after the election, people tend to judge others who don’t share the same opinion. Although it’s hard sometimes, it’s so important to try to understand others as long as they’re not being hateful. That may be the exception. By understanding others, we become familiar with humanity. People have so much to offer. We fail ourselves when we limit our friendships and circles to only similar people. Through every interaction with another person, we become more wholesome.

2) Understand the World

Understand the World

Although travelling is ideal, the fact that some of us are busy and broke makes it hard to visit other lands. However, we have access to the internet, books, magazines etc. that are stacked with information. If you can’t hop on a flight to southeast Asia, search for a magazine that details the on-goings of Thailand. Home is great, but gaining an understanding of both culture and geography can bring out the best in us. This year, aim to learn more about the world around you.

3) Understand Art

Understand Art

Art is the least limited thing in the world.  You can find art in anything. Yet, strangely enough, it’s so easy to look past. How often do we walk through a city and marvel at the architecture, or appreciate music that we don’t normally listen to? It’s quite easy to forget about the certain types of art that we don’t actively seek out, but it’s also problematic. By ignoring the art around us, or even not paying much attention to it, we lose touch with the hard work and passion that the creators put into it. Understanding how to appreciate art in all forms makes everything brighter.

4) Understand Yourself

Understand Yourself

The fact that we spend every living moment with ourselves seems like enough evidence to back that we probably have a good understanding of ourselves, right? Well, probably not. The ability to understand oneself strengthens with time and more importantly, with experience. If we limit ourselves to routine, then we limit learning about ourselves. Trying new things, going new places, and meeting new people opens up doors to self-understanding that we wouldn’t have found by staying within our comfort zone. Our personalities aren’t stagnant- by experiencing the world we experience ourselves.

This year, I hope that you can challenge yourself to understand. What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments below. 

Surviving the Snow: How to Overcome Winter Weather

As a college student, one of the things I dread most each year is winter. Walking across campus in below freezing temperatures trying to avoid ice patches is not enjoyable. With finals right around the corner it is more important than ever to get to class, but the cold and snow can make walking to class a nightmare. Perseverance is key. Here are some tips for staying warm and overcoming winter weather.

1. Stay Bundled Up

winter weather - bundle up

The easiest way to beat the cold is to stay bundled up. Coats, hats, scarves, and gloves are your best friends this time of year. Yes it can be a bit of a hassle to carry all of this around once you are indoors, but it will always be worth it when a surprise snowfall hits during your class. Dollar stores have a huge selection of gloves, hats, and scarves that don’t cost much money so if you do accidentally lose something during the day you don’t have to worry.

2. Wear Waterproof Shoes

winter weather - waterproof shoes

Keeping your feet warm is essential. Its hard to walk to class when you can’t feel your toes. Wearing waterproof shoes will keep the cold water from melted snow from reaching your feet. Rain boots are always great to have when dealing with winter weather.

3. Carry a Spare Pair of Socks

winter weather - spare pair socks

We all know the quote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Even if you are wearing waterproof shoes water will still occasionally find a way in. Maybe a car went by too fast or you stepped in a puddle that was deeper than it looked. Either way, your feet are wet and cold. Having a spare pair of dry socks in your bag to change into will help you keep your feet from freezing!

4. Bring a Warm Drink

winter weather - warm drink

Nothing beats winter weather like a mug of hot chocolate. Get a travel mug and fill it with your favorite warm drink. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are all perfect for this time of year. Not only do you get the benefit of a warm drink to perk you up, but the heat from the mug can help keep your hands warm as well!

Surviving the cold can be a challenge, but with a little preparation you will be able to stay warm all winter long. If you have any more winter weather tips leave them in the comment section below!

Dear College Students, It’s Okay to Seek Help

college students seek help

Dear fellow college students,

Now is about the time when you’re all settled in your college courses. You are studying for exams and you’ve spent numerous hours completing assignments and doing homework. Ironically, as the days gradually grow shorter, our own days feel much longer. The stress of college, from our current social lives, to our grades, and to our looming futures, sometimes feels unbearable. Managing ourselves to be productive and successful individuals can strain us mentally and physically. As the semester goes forward, often times stress piles up and we feel exhausted and drained. Come finals, many people, myself included, have suffered immensely.  This takes an extensive toll on anyone’s well-being. I’m here to tell you that you are never alone!

We’re primed and taught to persevere through tough times as students. All-nighters fueled by coffee and Redbull are considered the “norm”. We’re taught to put school before everything else, our own selves included. However, with this mindset of allowing ourselves to suffer for school’s sake, our mental health is at risk.

According to statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 1 in 3 college students have suffered from depression and about 50% of college students rated their mental health as “poor”. These alarming statistics paint a terrifying portrait of the struggles that college students suffer every semester. College is supposed to be a positive experience to grow as intellectuals and as people, so why are we allowing ourselves to suffer?

Experiencing mental health deficits from overworking myself in school is something I have experienced and it has taught me one very important lesson: never think that you’re alone.

Many schools offer at least some form of counseling for their students at no extra cost. Although seeking help from a professional seems daunting, it can be really helpful. A trained counselor is likely well rehearsed in how to combat mental health issues brought on by school related stress. Therefore, through seeking help, a counselor can not only provide insight, but they can also validate your struggles.

Counseling isn’t the only way to seek help. Talking to a friend or a family member is really helpful as well. Having our feelings heard and having a support system reminds us that we’re not alone. Sometimes it’s difficult to talk about what we’re going through for many different reasons, like feeling like our struggles are trivial. Luckily, that’s what friends and family are for.

College is difficult, but it doesn’t have to take a toll on your well-being. On top of seeking help, make sure to take time to take care of yourself. Take breaks when you’re feeling overwhelmed, eat well and exercise regularly. Call your family and hang out with friends when you’re feeling sad. Whatever makes you happy- take time to do it. Yes, school is important, but your health and well being always should be top priority.

I cannot speak for everyone, but I can say that if you’re willing to seek help, it’s available in some form. Never brush your feelings off as insignificant and always, always keep hopeful!

Do you deal with these feelings brought on by the stress of school? How do you cope or seek help? Drop us a comment below. 

Exercise Tips for College Students

Thomas Jefferson once wrote that we should “give about two of them [that’s hours, people!], every day, to exercise; for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong.” We all know how hard it can be to find time for exercise during college. Between academic and social obligations, our physical health is something we often neglect. It is important that we find time to be active; there is a great deal of scientific evidence pointing towards the cognitive benefits of exercise. New York Times writer Gretchen Reynolds describes how, in a recent experiment performed on mice at the University of Illinois, mice who ran regularly were found to have more brain cells than those that were sedentary. The mice that ran for a couple weeks had about twice as many neurons as sedentary animals! This study reveals how exercise seems to “slow or reverse the brain’s physical decay,” which starts in your late twenties. So, if you exercise, you are actually “jump-start[ing] neurogenesis,” or the creation of new brain cells! Just like other muscles, you can strengthen your brain.

So, how do you get started? What exercises are best? How can you avoid injuries? Well, that’s where I come in. If you are struggling with picking the perfect exercise routine, this is for you!

Strength Training

Many of us–particularly women– exercise, but neglect strength training. Some women worry that they will become too bulky; this is very unlikely. Strength training helps you become more shapely and trim. According to the trainer Debbie Seibers, “three to four hours after a strength-training workout, you’re still burning calories.” Try lifting weights every third day and see how you feel!

Make Sure to Use Proper Form!

Many people do more harm than good when they lift weights. This is because they do not really know what they are doing. While men tend to pick a weight that is too heavy, women, worried that they will bulk up, pick weights that are too light. Both extremes can lead to incorrect form. According to a study published by The Journal of Applied Physiology, lighter weights can even be more effective at helping you gain more muscle.

 

Don’t hurt yourself. Many serious injuries arewomen-weight-lifting-exercise caused from lifting weights incorrectly. Disc herniations are very common; if you are in pain when you are picking things up, this may be why. Degenerative disc disease is also very common. Builtlean.com writer Kenneth Leung states that this is a “common term that doctors use to describe ‘excessive wear and tear on the spine.’” Leung goes on to say that disease can be worsened if you have poor posture; this includes your posture while you are lifting weights! Leung recommends focusing on hinging at the hips and engaging your core in order to keep your spine properly aligned.

Do your reps slowly! If you are patient and consistent, you will get results. I recommend spending a half an hour lifting weights a couple times a week. Also, if you decide to do cardio on the same day as strength training, I would lift weights first; this way you don’t tire yourself out! For images of correct weightlifting form, check out this page.  

Running: Positives and Negatives

I used to be a runner in high school. Unfortunately, I am prone to knee injuries and had to stop. This is a very common problem among runners. Among the most common injuries are to the IT Band and the achilles tendon.

If you have an IT Band injury, you may feel pain “anywhere from your outside hip bone down to your knee.” In order to prevent these injuries, Leung states that you should keep your knees aligned with your toes and make sure your hips do not sway too much. Leung also recommends the single leg hip hinge in order to strengthen your glutes and hips. I also recommend using a foam roller when you are in pain; this will give you a deep tissue massage.

I know from personal experience how painful tendonitis can be. If you have an achilles tendon injury, you may feel pain in the back part of your heel, all the way up to the Achilles tendon. Unfortunately, these injuries take a long time to heal. Leung recommends resting first in order to decrease inflammation. Then, you should “gradually built up the strength in the calf muscle by doing heel raises.” If you are going to continue running, make sure to stretch your ankles and calves frequently. Leung recommends jumping rope as a warm-up, stating that it will help “strengthen the calves and keep you quick on your feet.”

running-exercise-college

Another major injury often caused by running is a hamstring tear. If you feel a sharp, shooting pain in the back of your thigh, you probably tore your hamstring. Leung states that this is often caused by “explosive activities like sprinting or jumping.” Unfortunately, it could take years for this to heal. It is important to warm-up in order to avoid this injury.

Sadly, for me, running is not an option; my body is too delicate and prone to injuries. I believe that you are either born to run or you shouldn’t do it. My sister has always been a runner and she usually has no injuries. My father is more like me: he ran all his life and now has horrible knee injuries. So, listen to your body! If it’s telling you to run, run! If it’s telling you to stop, find an alternative. For me, kickboxing was the answer.

Kickboxing: The Ultimate Exercise!

I found kickboxing shortly after I stopped running. It is a fantastic way to get out your aggression and it’s easy on your knees. In addition, kickboxing helps immensely with muscle toning, flexibility, circulation, stress relief, and coordination. The fitness instructor Samir Becic praises kickboxing because it is a full body workout. He states that kickboxing will help you “save time by combining your cardio and resistance workouts.” I love how efficient kickboxing is! According to Sammie Kennedy, CEO and creator of Femme Fitale, kickboxing alone “burns about 750 calories in an hour… add in jump rope and conditioning drills, and you could burn anywhere from 750 to 900 calories in an hour.” I always walk out of my kickboxing class feeling absolutely amazing. I was lucky enough to find a kickboxing class at college– maybe you will be too! If you’re interested, do some research and see if there’s a class on campus or nearby.

Strengthening Your Abs: Do’s and Dont’s

Ab exercises are my favorite. I usually spend about a half an hour every other day doing abdominal exercises. For great suggestions, check out this site. Make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly! I have seen plenty people waste their time by doing incorrect ab exercises. Many people think that the faster you go, the better the workout. In fact, it is actually better to go slower! For an extra burn, keep your head off of the ground during your abdominal exercises!

The Elliptical: Is it Worth it?

Many people–especially women– choose the elliptical over the treadmill. The elliptical is great because it is low-impact. I rarely feel in pain after working out on the elliptical. Livestrong.com comments that you can burn up to 400 calories in just 30 minutes of exercising on an elliptical machine. Although the elliptical doesn’t burn calories as quickly as a treadmill can, it is still a great workout; your whole body is engaged and you are able to increase your aerobic capacity. This will allow you to workout for longer periods of time. If you have any injuries, I recommend the elliptical!

Conclusions: Where Should You Start?

Before you begin exercising, you must know your body. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Getting in shape takes time and dedication. Above all, make sure you are having fun; you don’t want to feel terrified every time you go to the gym! Also (obviously!) if you can, you should workout outside instead. Especially after a long day of classes, you need the fresh air. Go for a run, a bike ride, a hike, or even do your ab workouts out on the grass. Good luck and happy exercising!

Pokemon Go Controversy

Attention all 20-30 year olds: the card game you grew up loving is now available on your smartphone. Pokemon has gotten a make-over and people are going crazy over it.

Released on July 6 Pokemon Go has adults reliving their childhood, but at what cost. Since the games’ release, there have been a number of attacks and peculiar incidents. On July 14, two North San Diego County men fell off a bluff while playing the game. One of the men fell nearly 50 feet and was knocked unconscious while the other fell 75-100 feet, said Battalion Chief Robbie Ford of the Encinitas Fire Department. Both men suffered moderate injuries and were taken to area trauma centers.

Pokemon Go Take Over

Further north, in Anaheim, a player was stabbed by a group of men in a park. The victim who is in his 20s, was playing the game around 12:30 am when he encountered a group of men. Anaheim police sergeant Luis Correa said five to six men, ranging in age from teens to 20s, attacked the man and stabbed him several times. The motive for the attack is still unclear, however the group did not lure the victim into the park. The man had non-life threatening injuries.

The bizarre incidences don’t stop there. Pokemon Go users have also been robbed and carjacked while out playing the game.

People need to realize their lives are not worth catching a fictional character. To those who wish to relive a game that they once held dear to their heart I say catch em’ all, but please be careful! The game leaves people unknowingly vulnerable and in harms way. Just today I was driving through my town and saw a man barely miss being hit by a car all because he was trying to catch a Pokemon. I understand it’s an exciting blast from the past, but be sure to always be aware of your surroundings when playing.

The app has taken a couple of steps to help prevent the above scenarios with their latest updates, which include safety warnings.

Easy Ways to Help Save the Planet

This past week, I started my online class for the summer about World Ecology Problems. To break it down, we basically debate and post about environmental problems. One of the first assignments was to watch a video called How to be Green Without being Prick. To sum it up, the guy in the video discusses that until people become educated and more aware, we can’t help save the planet.

We don’t realize how much of a direct influence we have on the environment. The video got me thinking about how I could do my part. Even in college right now, we can make slight adjustments to improve our ecological footprint. Below are some of the changes we can make to be more environmentally friendly.

What Can You Do to Help Out?

Easy Ways to Help Save the Planet

  • Lighting: Change your light bulbs to more energy efficient ones: they seem expensive, but they last up to 5x longer than regular bulbs so they pay off in the long run.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: It seems so simple but its easier to forget to recycle items like paper products and plastic containers. Reduce the amount of spending such as buying cases of water bottles and switched to a reusable water bottle. Instead of throwing away random items like clothes and furniture, consider up cycling them.
  • Be Aware: Be conscious to saving energy like setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter or for air conditioner a few degrees higher in the summer. Cutting down the time in the shower can save energy and also the amount of water usage as well.
  • Power Down: To go with saving energy, making sure to turn off lights when you leave a room. We all have been guilty of leaving a light on here and there and it does add up! Also consider trying to unplug any electronics and appliances when you’re not in the room.
  • Transportation: this may be an easier change due the fact as college students, we tend to walk everywhere. One way to go a step above that is car pooling to places like the grocery store or to work with coworkers.

With these simple changes in your daily routine, it not only will save Earth’s environment but I hope make you feel empowered to spread the word! Have other earth-saving tips? Leave them in the comments below!

How to be a Healthy and Creative College Cook

Landscape

Most people think that if you wish to have a healthy diet, you must deal with being hungry; healthy food can’t possibly keep you full, can it? Faced with what appears to be an “either-or” choice, college students often choose to stick with what they are comfortable with: an unbalanced diet. It is hard for many people to realize that eating healthy does not mean cutting out all your favorite foods; it simply means getting creative. If you are cooking for yourself and struggling to buy the proper foods, these tips are for you.

College can becoming monotonous– the same schedule, day after day, and tests week after week. Creating healthy, delicious meals can help add some variety to your daily obligations. In order to create meals you enjoy, you must listen to your body: what upsets your stomach? What foods make you feel lethargic? Many people do not realize how much what they eat affects their mood; you will be surprised at how much better you feel if you listen to your body! It is helpful to keep a food log in order to keep track of what you eat and how you react to it. Through this process, I learned that I should avoid gluten and dairy. In fact, most of the population has a sensitivity to dairy; it is hard to digest and provides few health benefits.

You must stay focused at the supermarket: stay out of the isles that are too tempting. Start off in the produce section and pick out the vegetables you like the most. No one is forcing you to eat anything; pick only what you enjoy! I always buy spinach because it is delicious, healthy, and can be added to almost every meal. Next, pick out some fruits; they are the perfect snack and the perfect alternative to a high-calorie dessert.

Many college students fail to pick out the proper grains. Processed gluten ha2187748015_b23f5bd7ed_bs few health benefits and does not keep you full for long. Instead, look for foods with a low glycemic index; these grains keep you full for longer. This does not mean you have to compromise on taste– it is all about how you prepare your food. The better you are at cooking, the less you have to worry about finding that perfect balance between delicious and healthy. I usually buy rice products like basmati rice or rice noodles.

Next, pick your protein. It is important to be aware of what happens to your food before it reaches the grocery store; many animals are raised in horrible conditions and are not fed a natural diet. If this upsets you, I recommend becoming a vegetarian or pescatarian. Apart from the occasional chicken or turkey, I eat only fish. No matter your diet, it is important to eat protein. I recommend fish, beans, yogurt, and eggs; these foods keep you full for a long time.

Everyone loves snacks. Just because you want to eat healthy, doesn’t mean you have to cut out snacks. Moderation is key; only buy one of your favorite snacks. Give yourself some freedom– if you are too strict with yourself, you won’t succeed. Be smart about what snack you choose. I recommend dark chocolate, because it is both delicious and does not contain artificial ingredients. Avoid buying sugary drinks. Many people don’t realize how dangerous it is to buy soda; drinking your calories tricks you into thinking you are not being unhealthy. In addition, pick out a healthier snack– something you can eat a lot of without feeling too guilty or getting a stomach ache. I love rice crisps or Snapea crisps; they come in a lot of different flavors and are relatively light snacks. Don’t avoid the snacks that “sound healthy.” Just because something is healthy, doesn’t mean it’s gross!

Before you leave the store, make sure you have seasoning; something this simple can elevate your meals. I make sure to always have salt, pepper, and garlic. On top of those essentials, I also buy plenty of olive oil and teriyaki sauce. Olive oil is a healthy alternative to butter or canola oil; it is a monounsaturated fatty acid, not a saturated or trans fat. These little details are what make all the difference–always check the ingredients before you buy something!

Many people give up on a healthy diet because they think it requires too much effort or takes up too much time. Once you create a system, eating healthy is easy. After you have all your ingredients, check out before you get tempted to buy more than you have to! Now the challenge is to think about what your favorite meals are; there is always a way to create a healthy version of a meal. For example, if you like french fries, make your own– buy some potatoes, cut them into fries, cover them with olive oil and a little salt, and bake them! This is much healthier than the pre-made french fries you buy at McDonald’s.

Though eating healthy inevitably takes more time than buying pre-made food, it does not have to be complicated. When you have a break, start cooking. I recommend cooking big meals so that you will have leftovers. I sometimes cook a meal that lasts for two or three days, which allows me to eat quickly on the days when I am the most busy. The stigma 4920968077_8523c4b35a_qagainst leftovers is not true; they can be delicious! I have found that the most successful meals are stir-frys; simply choose a protein, a vegetable, and a grain. Add garlic and teriyaki sauce to the pan and you’re ready to go.

I believe that the main reason college students do not eat healthy is because they do not make their own food. Many college students don’t really know how to cook. People do not realize how easy and fun cooking can be. Not only does it allow you to see exactly what is going into your food, but it is also a great way to take a break from studying. When I feel overworked but know that I don’t have the time to take a real break, I choose to cook instead. While you are cooking, you have time to yourself; you can think through problems or you can turn off your racing mind and listen to music. Enjoy cooking healthy–your mind and your body will thank you!