This post was written by an external contributor. Anca Coman proves that it is possible to stay healthy whilst you’re a student.
University represents a real challenge for any student. Besides the general ‘what should I do with my life’ issues, it also impacts on the ability to keep a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that more and more students eat junk food and don’t exercise anymore.
Sure, being away from home completely changes your life. Have you realised before how much time cooking takes? Or that you need to be really organised to have all the ingredients you need to cook your favourite dish? Students typically choose to rely on the easy options. Ordering junk food, having sugary drinks and spending most free time in the pub rather than going for a run.
However, this easy path can in fact come with complications. Students are notorious for easily gaining weight during university, as they don’t take care of their lifestyle anymore. This can consequently have an impact later on in life, with severe health problems emerging.
Keeping a healthy diet and exercising will positively contribute to a healthy lifestyle, no matter the age and occupation. Don’t look for excuses like ‘I have a full timetable today’, as it’ll be even more difficult to fit in diet and exercise when you work eight hours a day. Once you get used to a healthy routine, you’ll find out that it’s not that hard.
Exercise without going to the gym
Going to the gym is not for everyone. Perhaps you’re on a budget and can’t afford a membership, or maybe it’s too far away from home for a convenient visit, or even the thought of lifting weights and joining gym classes is intimidating.
So, what’s left? Stop taking the bus or an Uber and just enjoy a nice walk. Either if it’s to the school or whilst hanging out with friends, choose to lose some calories by walking. Or alternatively, if the weather is sunny enough, use your bike or roller skates.
If you feel you’re too wild for just a soft walk, challenge yourself and go for a run in the park. This will kill way more calories than a simple walk. There are plenty of online plans and apps for beginners that will guide you to running a 5K race. Or, if you’re feeling brave, a marathon.
Experiment with your cooking
Remember what Joey from Friends used to eat? Pizza, meatball sandwiches, and chicken buckets from KFC. He was so in love with that food because it was delicious. But how can we make healthy food taste just as good?
Try adding condiments or other flavours such as lemon, garlic or herbs. Spice up your food in a way that suits you – don’t be afraid to mix and match the ingredients. Add oregano or cajun to your grilled chicken, basil to tomato bruschetta, or fruits to your vegetable salads.
But make sure that the ingredients you add keep the same healthy pattern your main ingredients do. For example, don’t go for full-fat mayonnaise when you make a Ceasar Salad. Alternatively, try a plain Greek yogurt combined with a pinch of olive oil and lemon.
You obviously don’t have to say NO to desserts, just find substitutes for the unhealthy things. Instead of sugar, add honey. Instead of flour, add almond flour. However, when it comes to sweets, everything must be in moderation in order to not exceed your calories intake.
Eat healthily when you go out
Have you ever said no to hanging out just because you were afraid of binge eating and drinking? There’s still a way to enjoy a night out and keep a healthy lifestyle. Choose meals from the healthy section of the menu, like salads or chicken with vegetables.
Instead of a pint of beer, stick to the water and add a slice of lime for a refreshing drink! If winter is coming, (as Jon Snow would say), a green tea or a black coffee is much healthier than a mocha or a hot chocolate.
However, if you feel that you need a cheat day, don’t be afraid to have one. If a pizza is what you need, have it! Just make sure not to ruin your healthy progress with regular cheat days. Return to your normal meal and sports plan as soon as possible and leave your indulgence behind.
Ensure you have lots of sleep and water!
These are the most important factors in a healthy lifestyle. You must become consistent with your sleeping timetable – make sure you sleep around eight hours a day. In doing so, manage your time during the day to make sure you don’t spend your nights studying too late. No matter what, you need a good sleep for your mind, body and soul.
Also, learn to drink water even when you’re not thirsty. Opt for a still rather than a sparkling water, as the latter may make you feel bloated. Have a bottle of water with you wherever you go. You can download a drinking app on your smartphone such as Daily Water and set it on a timer for every 15 minutes. That way you’ll be told when it’s time to take another sip of water.
As you can see, it’s completely doable to stay healthy as a student. If you follow these top tips, you’ll feel more energised and refreshed, which could have a positive affect on your study habits. That first will be yours in no time!