This summer, parents all across the country are getting their kids ready for college. They’re buying sheets, towels and computers for their students and making plans for the extra bedroom. They’ll drop the kids off with the basic necessities for college but without the basic knowledge of how to stay healthy and get good grades while there.
College is a very exciting time full of new adventures, challenges and freedoms. Unfortunately, many students arrive on campus without the skills necessary to navigate these new waters. Parents can help prepare these young adults to make healthy lifestyle choices that can make all the difference in keeping them safe and happy, AND raise their GPA!
The Strike it Healthy® Philosophy
Since 1995, my research in behavioral health and public health, along with thousands of hours counseling others, have inspired a simple 3-step philosophy that will help anyone – especially young adults – make better decisions.
1) Before you make a decision, especially an important one, obtain reputable information from sources you can trust.
2) Think critically about this information to determine your decision.
3) Surround yourself with a strong support system (a group of people who sincerely care about you) that will encourage you to practice safer and healthier habits.
The Nutritional Dilemma – the Freshman 15
College students have disclosed various health-related habits, including poor eating habits and questionable ways to lose weight. These are concerning topics, especially knowing that our bodies need specific nutrients on a daily basis. Therefore the type of nutrients we ingest can make or break our abilities to acquire the best life-related outcomes.
Apply this to college students, where their nutritional behaviors can make or break their academic performance and their overall experience.
For students living on campus eating at the campus dining hall can be a free pass to as many high-calorie, fatty foods as you can eat. There is even a greater risk for students not living on campus because of the easiest is the best approach, which usually means fast foods and little or no focus on fruits and vegetables.
Quick Tips for Better Health – A more balanced, healthy diet will avoid weight gain, give you more energy, keep you from getting sick and even improve grades.
1) For high nutrition with low calories aim for two to three servings of fruit a day and three to five servings of vegetables. Get your servings by starting the day with 100% juice, have a salad for lunch, and then vegetables with dinner.
2) Eat a healthy breakfast every day for more energy. Fruit is great for on-the-go breakfasts or grab a container of whole grain dry cereal (or yogurt) to eat on the way to class. Avoid high calorie breakfast sandwiches, breakfast bars, and snacks.
3) Avoid any legal or illegal drugs. Some students are experimenting with drugs like Adderall, Ritalin and let’s not forget the over-the-counter drugs including high-energy (highly caffeinated) beverages to improve their grades. Other students experiment with drugs to lose weight. No one should place their health in jeopardy because of a notion. A drug is a drug (this includes alcohol) and being responsible and safe should be the first rule college students should live by.
No matter what, the “natural way” is the best way. It’s challenging to practice healthier eating habits. But research shows that college students’ health habits’ affects their academic performance. Another important point is that student athletes typically burn more calories than non-athletics. Therefore athletes need to be very aware of their nutritional needs to their athletic performance, which also affects their academic outcomes as well.
College is a special time for young adults to discover who they are and what they want to be. Incorporating safe and healthy lifestyle habits can boost energy, increase productivity, enhance self-esteem, improve overall well-being and maximize grades!