Finally! You have tackled the awkward high school years, and made it to college as an adult. Away from the comfort of home, where the refrigerator is always stocked and delicious home-cooked meal is always on the table, here comes the big question: what are you going to eat?
My name is Elena Zimeng, and I am a qualified Dietitian with a passion for healthy, balanced eating habits. Eating well is a part of a healthy lifestyle, and it can have great impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Just like you, I was a college student and had to learn how to take care of myself and feed myself. The truth is, many new college students nowadays are not quite experienced enough to know how to feed themselves properly. On the other hand, the cost of tertiary education plus living expenses mean that many students are short on food money. It is the reality.
The most common foods found in a college student’s kitchen are bread, cold meats, pot noodles, eggs, along with frozen pizza and microwave dinners; the beverages of choice are likely to be soda, energy drink and 6-pack beers. Meal-skipping seem to be a norm – You missed breakfast because you decided to sleep-in after a big night; lunch was well-forgotten as you were drowning in assignments; you decided to skip supper because you want to look thinner, or you are running low on money. On the other hand, some might never use their kitchen, and eat fast-food daily.
The wonder of the human body is, we are truly what we eat. The effect of your eating habits may not reflect right now or even in a few years; however, unbalanced and unhealthy eating habits will affect your health in the long run. Convenient fast-foods, take-outs, snacks and soft beverages are usually very high in salt, fat and sugar, which in short term may cause weight gain, and in the long term may lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart diseases. Meal-skipping, as well as not eating enough fruit and vegetables can put you at risk of malnutrition, which can negatively affect your energy levels, learning abilities, as well as the overall well-being.
College can be tough and competitive, and you will need to look after your health to perform at your best. Here are a few advices on healthy eating habits:
- Strive to eat 3 meals per day, even if you wake up late.
- Include at least 2 types of vegetable in your lunch AND supper.
- Eat at least 1 fruit daily
- Substitute unhealthy snacks (crisps, candies, fries, etc) with healthier snacks, such as yoghurt, dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts or trail mix.
- Substitute sugary beverages with water, unsweetened tea or coffee.
- Eat less take-outs and fast-foods, start with having them on weekends only. This will also help you to save money.
- The internet is full of budget-friendly yet healthy recipes. Learn to make a new dish every week.
- Be mindful that alcohol is very high in calories & sugar. It has no other nutritional value and affects your productivity. If you decide to drink, drink responsibly. Kudos to you if you decide not to drink!
You can do it! Learn more about food and develop a good relationship with it. We were given only one body, so we shall look after it, live, love and prosper in it.