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Healthy eating for first-years: How to maintain a nutritious diet during a difficult transition

Food for thought on first-year nutrition
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JESSICA LAM/THE VARSITY
JESSICA LAM/THE VARSITY

It is often difficult for first-year students to practice healthy eating, and for good reason many are simply too busy with university life to spend time cooking. After finishing a day’s worth of hard work, who wouldn’t want to have a slice of pizza for dinner? However, unhealthy practices can have dangerous consequences, such as serious chronic health conditions. Fortunately, there are a number of simple ways you can integrate healthy eating into your daily routine.

The first and most important tip is to start off your day right by eating a healthy breakfast every morning, to give you the nutrition you need to get you through the day. Research has shown that this can lower your risk for heart disease and improve your mental abilities. Some healthy morning starters include whole-grain cereals, bread or bagels, fruits and veggies, eggs, or even plain yogurt!

Avoid food and drinks like Coke, which may not add much nutritional value to your diet. Substituting soft drinks for water ensures your body stays hydrated. One crucial word of advice is to have a nutritious snack available that you can eat between meals. If you keep a protein bar in your backpack, you may not be as tempted to buy fast food which might not have as much protein. Foods like protein bars that are rich in protein can help you stay fueled for longer!

Finally, give yourself a break from time to time. Although it’s a good idea to avoid foods you know aren’t very nutritious, spending all your energy cutting anything unhealthy from your diet can be exhausting. It’s okay to indulge yourself sometimes — your goal should be to stay healthy, not to make yourself feel miserable. 

As you get ready to begin a new chapter in your life, you should remember that good nutrition can go a long way. Eating a nutritious diet and maintaining consistent eating habits may actually help you perform better in school, which all college students can agree is very important. It may still take some time and effort to build healthy eating habits, but it’s worth it — your body will thank you for this in the long run!