A student’s guideline to eating healthy


(Graphic by Kate Turner)

With the school year officially underway, students will have to set a new routine to keep themselves healthy and presentable throughout the year, in addition to coping with the stresses of course work.

A major component of staying healthy is maintaining a healthy diet, which can be a challenge at university, especially due to the many temptations present on campus.

For incoming first year students, the adjustment from eating at home to providing for yourself is especially tricky. Living on your own means that mom and dad are not there to cook nutritious meals after a long day of school and work, which means that the effort to be healthy is completely your own initiative.  The sad reality is that sometimes doing something as simple as this is not easy.

While meal cards seem to be convenient, there are many unhealthy traps to be weary of. That being said, there are many simple tricks that can be done to avoid the freshmen 15. For example, eating at the dining hall is both a blessing and a curse. All-you-can-eat seems like the best way to get the most value for those meal card dollars. While that may be true, many of the foods served there are high in carbohydrates and starches, which contribute to fat retention.

Contrary to popular belief, fat is not the enemy. In fact, they are essential to human health and are a must-have in a healthy, balanced diet. Meat, nuts and oils, such as coconut and olive oil, are excellent sources of the “healthy fats” that are required in a healthy diet. Cakes, pastries and muffins contain trans and saturated fats, which should be avoided if possible.

The salad bar is the best option in the dining hall. Vegetables are low in sugars and high in many different vitamins. Be wary of dressing selections; many of the dressings contain mayonnaise and oils high in trans and saturated fats.
When it comes to drink selections around campus, water trumps all other beverages. Students should be drinking between two to three litres a day. If you want to add some flavour so your water is not so bland, there are many sugar-free additives that will suffice. It is important to consider that a lot of the classrooms are crowded and hot, which accelerates the dehydration process.

Coffee, a staple in everyone’s university experience, can be problematic when planning a healthy diet for the year. The coffee itself isn’t bad for your health, but the additives pose a risk. Hot drinks loaded with sugar and cream will increase fat production, and too much sugar will raise the chances of developing diabetes. Try weaning yourself off of sugar and cream and progress to drinking black coffee, if possible. If that fails, there are plenty of natural sweeteners that are available, such as Stevia, that contain no gluten or calories. These sweeteners act as excellent substitutes for the avid coffee drinker who desperately needs a sweet fix to get through the day.

What are some good options for students at home? Although it is the best way to ensure a healthy diet, cooking can be very time-consuming and the mess afterwards even more so. There are some solutions to this dilemma, such as the wonder food, quinoa. Quinoa, a healthy grain-like crop, is easy to prepare and can be added to almost anything for flavour. It tastes like a grain, but it contains few carbohydrates and fats and is loaded with protein. It can be found in any grocery store and only requires a pot and stove or rice cooker to prepare.

Healthy snacking is a simple task that can be added into your daily routine. Almonds are a delicious snack to carry around on-the-go between classes and work. They are loaded with essential proteins and very convenient. A serving size (which is approximately a handful) is very filling despite the small portion size, which is great when trying to control portions.

Of course, diet is not the only concern when trying to remain healthy. Adequate sleep, daily exercise and frequent social adventures away from school stresses are required in order to function throughout the long school year. Maintaining a doable and healthy lifestyle is only a challenge if you make it one.

Just remember to eat your fruits and vegetables, drink lots of fluids and remember to take everything in moderation. By doing this, you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your school year in total health.

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Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.