#UniversityMentalHealthDay - Seven reasons it's crucial to make good nutritional choices

After working hard all through school and college, you've finally graduated and are off to university.

Leaving home and being on your own for the first time is an exciting adventure.

You're also looking forward to getting out with friends and eating all that delicious food in and around campus.

Unfortunately, a lot of students let the healthier eating habits they had at home fall by the wayside. 

1. Avoiding the Freshman Fifteen

If you've ever heard of the term "freshman fifteen", it refers to the weight gain many new students pack on in their first year away at college. Caught up in the excitement of so many readily-accessible food choices, anything and everything looks good. University towns can be an oasis of fast food restaurants and bars.

The easy availability, coupled with a lack of kitchen facilities in a dorm room, makes this type of eating very convenient. If you find yourself falling into a nasty cycle, stop reaching for greasy fast food. Begin by researching the healthiest options at your regular hangouts. Check local supermarkets or health food stores for salads, fruits and other fresh choices. 

2. Managing Your Time

Students are notoriously busy and as a result, can get burned out quickly. Between attending classes, writing papers, studying and even working a job, there's almost no time for sleeping let alone eating right. Meals are grabbed in a hurry from one place to another.

Since time is a precious commodity, many students find it helpful to keep vitamins or a supplement with prebiotic ingredients on hand. These are a healthy, sugar-free way to boost good bacteria in your gut and provide the energy that students seek.

3. Developing Permanent Habits

University provides your first opportunity for learning to live alone and being independent. Not only are you receiving an education, but also discipline in personal care. You're largely responsible for your well-being and that includes nutritional habits.

These patterns will likely stay with you for years to come. It's important that you begin to see the implications that your diet will have on your future health. Much in the same way your studies will impact the course of your career, your food choices will affect your future health.

4. Sleeping Better

Students are likely to find themselves run ragged by the end of a semester. The foods you're eating can play a big part. In an effort for students to finish papers and studies, they're often highly-caffeinated and sugared-up.


This can also prevent them from getting the few hours of sleep they so desperately need. If this describes you, start reaching for foods and pick-me-ups that are nutrient-dense and provide long-lasting energy. Meals and snacks with protein such as green salad with chicken, eggs, yogurt or nut butters can provide a boost without a crash a couple of hours later. 

6. Fitting in Exercise

Because students have crammed so many activities into their schedule, many are also missing out on regular physical fitness. If you don't have time to exercise, even for a temporary period of time, you will be relying on diet alone.

Try to get a walk or a run in whenever you can. A quick jog around campus between studies is a great way to clear your head and get moving. Make sure you drink plenty of water instead of sugary drinks that provide no nutritional value.

7. Looking and Feeling Your Best

This is one of the most exciting times in life. Between all your hard work and studying, it's a given that you've got to spend some time enjoying yourself.

Just remember how important it is for your body and your future to implement healthy eating. Now that you're living on your own with no one to tell you what to do, show everybody that you know how to make the right choices that keep you looking and feeling your best. 

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