However, living alone for the first time may hold pitfalls that one tends to recognize only after the damage is done. In terms of food choices, the 20 extra pounds, bad skin, moodiness and eating disorders may not be completely evident until a year or two in. Discovering that your body doesn’t bounce back from any abuse you can ladle on it can sneak up on you!
Here are 6 dietary stumbling blocks you may face and ways to make healthier choices on your road to enlightenment:
1 – Food/Meal Plans: Many first-year post-secondary students find themselves in residences where food is prepared and served to them just like Mom’s, right? Wrong! Mom does not supply a 10-flavour ice cream bar, French fries every night of the week and a never-ending cheese supply. Use common sense and focus on the healthy choices available. There’s nothing wrong with a salad for dinner, even though your friends are making brownies the new meatloaf. And remember to enjoy treats as a treat: try not to make ice cream a dietary staple.
2 – Late-night eating binges: These revolve around studying, gab sessions, after-bar indulgences, weeknight get-togethers to watch TV, dates or just about any opportunity when more than two or three people are gathered. Ensure that you have healthy snacks on hand to satisfy cravings. If you’re enjoying social time with friends, a cup of tea or flavoured mineral water might fit the bill as easily as pop and chips, and you’ll thank yourself later!
3 – Booze: Beware the Demon Liquor! Yes, you are away from home for the first time and it’s great to make your own decisions. But remember, there is a reason why beer bellies are called beer bellies! And it’s not just the booze that will do you in, Overindulging in alcohol will affect your good judgment with food as well. So what if you and your roommate had a yogurt for breakfast and a salad for lunch if you’re splitting a pizza, a couple pounds of wings and jalapenos poppers over half a dozen pints of beer at the local pub in the evening. Decide on your limit before you start out for the night, and don’t forget to add in “warm-up” drinks while getting ready to go out! If you’re out for the night, make every second drink a glass of water to hydrate yourself and slow down on alcohol consumption. Don’t succumb to peer pressure, you don’t need excuses to have a dry night; you’re just be making a sensible choice for yourself.
Page 1 of 24 – Coffee, coffee, coffee: Caffeine and college go hand in hand, but beware of the coffee bar. The extra syrups, whipped cream, sugar and chocolate in some of the specialty coffees can turn an afternoon drink into a meal. If you’re hitting the coffee shops three or four times a week, the calories are going to add up. Skip the extras when drinking out and try brewing at home you’ll save money and inches on your waistline!
5 – Stress: We all react differently to stress and this may be the first time in your life that you experience school deadlines, relationship issues, living alone, living with friends, negotiating for yourself and all at the same time. You’ll be tested in many ways during this period of your life. You may use food, or the lack thereof, as a crutch to get you through a tough period. But there are lots of support systems set up to help students on campus. Find out what’s available before you need help so you’ll know where to go when you do, instead of binging on a giant bag of potato chips.
6 – Takeout food: It’s easy, cheap and convenient, and it can do you in! Try cooking for yourself instead. Stock pasta, cans of tomatoes and tuna, fruits and vegetables, and convenience items, such as frozen peas or chopped vegetables, so that pizza is the exception for dinner, not the rule. Check out Canadian Living Online for quick and easy Make it Tonight recipes perfect for first-time cooks.
Managing healthy eating at this time in your life, sets you on the right track to make good decisions down the line. Surrounding yourself with peers who have similar food values as it will make it easier to stick to good choices. And, when you make a mistake (and you will) don’t beat yourself up, just put it behind you and move on!
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