College is busy enough with all the exams, revision, essay deadlines, partying, socialising and…Well, you get the picture. It may not seem like you’ve got time to eat particularly healthily, preferring instead a quick meal of ramen or take-out. But it’s worth taking some time out of each day to try and eat well (and even – shockingly – risk some exercise). Not only is it good for your health, it’s good for your mental state too, meaning you’ll find the work side of college a little easier.
Lots of college students find themselves perpetually tired and napping, and while some of this is definitely from going out drinking, it’s also often from a poor diet. If you’re not eating the right sort of things, then you’ll find that your body wears itself out more easily. The key to avoid this is to make sure you’re eating a good mix of the four major food groups: starchy foods (like bread, pasta), fruit and vegetables, protein sources (meat, eggs, beans, fish, etc) and dairy/dairy equivalents. Most students will find they lean very heavily over to starchy foods but lack the other three in some way, so try to balance this out and see what difference it makes.
If you find yourself exceptionally tired, even with a balanced diet, then try to increase your iron intake. It may well be worth checking in with a doctor to see if they’d recommend iron supplements since chronic tiredness can be a sign of a deficiency.
As we mentioned, a good diet can help your mental state, so it’s well worth eating what are commonly known as ‘brain foods’. Snacking on almonds rather than sweets will give you a huge vitamin E boost, and they’re very high in nutrients in general so can keep you alert for longer (great for all nighters). If it’s concentration you’re struggling with, and then try eating berries. Blueberries in particular have been shown to increase concentration and memory for around five hours! With huge amounts of antioxidants, they can stimulate the brain without relying on caffeine (and thus, avoiding the inevitable crash that tends to come with coffee).
It can sound weird to say eating healthily can save you money – after all, health food is expensive. But if you swap things around just right, you’ll find yourself fuller after most meals, reducing your snacking. For instance, if you don’t already eat breakfast, try adding in something healthy like muesli. Not only will it help you be wide awake for your early morning lectures, you’ll also find yourself less likely to pick at other foods before lunch. Swapping out nutritional content meals for higher ones might increase the per-meal cost, but it’ll certainly reduce your food budget overall if you don’t find yourself raiding the cupboards for biscuits at two in the morning!
When it comes to exercise, you might think that relaxing is the least likely outcome, but you’d be surprised. Exercising releases endorphins – giving you a lovely buzz. If you’re stressed or anxious about work, whilst exercising might be tiring, it’ll also give your mind a break and cheer you up. If stress is a really big issue for you, try yoga – one of the key concepts it can help teach is mindfulness and focused breathing, both of which can be really useful when it comes to calming down (especially in exams!).
Make Up the Difference
Obviously, college is expensive and time-consuming and you might be wondering just how you’ll be able to afford a diet change. The good news is that you can make up a lot of the shortfall by taking supplements. Be careful with the amounts, however, since there are some vitamins and minerals you can take too much of (like vitamin A). We recommend either taking a general multivitamin (as long as you don’t also eat fortified foods like fortified cereals), or targeting your weak areas specifically. Vitamin D is an absolute must-have, since it’s incredibly unlikely you’ll be getting enough. After that, you’ll want to check vitamin C, calcium, vitamin E and omega-3. Depending on what you eat, you might find you’re okay for some of these and not others. For instance, if you snack on fruit a lot you’ll be fine for vitamin C. You barely touch it? Probably not. Keep a food and mood diary to work out what areas to target and you’ll soon be using your healthy diet and exercise to boost your college work, rather than distract from it!
By Christopher Austin and Supplemented.co.uk!
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College students: Why is it vital to eat well and exercise regularly?