‘Healthy’ and ‘student’ are two words you rarely hear in the same sentence. If you have children about to start their studies, it’s understandable that you might be worried about how they will stay healthy, particularly if they are studying away from home or overseas.
The lure of student parties, having to cook for themselves for the first time, and limited funds, often mean that cheap and processed foods are the easiest option. However, whilst it may seem like the odds are stacked against a healthy lifestyle, here are some top tips for you to share with your budding students, to help keep them on the straight and narrow until graduation day!
- Consider a washing up rota – Let’s face it, one of the main reasons why students don’t want to prepare dinner is because they do not want to retrieve their pots and pans from the bottom of a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. So, they grab some fast food instead! Encourage them to establish a washing up rota with their housemates, so there is no excuse not to cook.
- Freeze leftovers – Cooking for one can be difficult, as there always seems to be leftovers. But, these do not need to go to waste. Show your children how and when to freeze left overs, so they have a quick and healthy meal for another day – no cooking required!
- Join an active club – Universities often have a wide range of sports-related clubs. This can be anything from hockey and tennis to cheerleading and soccer. Encourage your children to join a club when studying, as it is a great way to meet new people while also keeping active.
- Limit sugar intake – Sugar is filled with calories, but does not have any nutrients and plays a significant role in tooth decay. Instil good habits with your family, like using honey to sweeten hot drinks instead, or reaching for an apple rather than a biscuit for that mid-afternoon snack!
- Go to sleep – One thing that most students do not like to do is sleep. It can be tempting for students to stay up late with friends or to spend the time studying, but you need to remind them of the vital importance of sleep for their health. A lack of sleep contributes to obesity and diabetes, not to mention how grouchy they will feel on only a few hours of sleep!
- Shop around – Many students think eating healthy is typically expensive, but it does not need to be this way. Help your family understand how they can shop around for the best deals and keep to their budget. From buying vegetables at the local market to tinned goods at the bigger supermarkets, by buying from numerous places, they can help keep their costs low.
- Plan meals for the week – Often students have plenty of food in the fridge but no idea what to do with it! It is a good idea to help them plan their meals for the week so they can buy the ingredients they need, and not have any wasted items. Help them prepare some sample meal plans before they head off on their studies, so it’s even easier for them to keep costs down and stick to their healthy eating plan.
- Make a packed lunch – Get your children into the habit of making a packed lunch every day. This is likely to be a lot cheaper and healthier than grabbing something on the go in between lectures.
- Eat foods that are rich in calcium – In order to prevent osteoporosis later in life, young people need to start building up stores of calcium in their twenties. So make sure your children are including green leafy vegetables, milk, low-fat cheese and low-fat yoghurt in their diet.
- Incorporate fitness into each day – Everyone should spend 20-30 minutes of each day focusing on their fitness. Make sure your family are in the habit of making a trip to the gym, playing some sport or walking to class instead of catching the bus.
- Help them stay motivated – Set reminders on your children’s phone so they get helpful messages to keep them motivated throughout the week. Remind them that living healthily is more important than ever when they are studying, as this helps optimise their brain function so they can ace every test!
- Keep healthy snacks on hand – Encourage them to take healthy snacks to lectures such as raw vegetables, fruits and seeds. This can help them from heading to a nearby store or vending machine and grabbing a chocolate bar!
- Improve their cooking knowledge – Before they leave for university, spend some time helping your children hone their cooking skills. Share basics on healthy cooking techniques and what they should and shouldn’t eat.
- Eat a good breakfast – There is a lot of research that shows that if you skip breakfast, it can detract from scholastic achievement. It is so important for everyone to eat breakfast, but especially students who need the energy for their classes and lectures. Get them in the habit of eating breakfast every day, so they’ll remember to do it when studying away from home.
- Drink plenty of fluids – It’s easy for students to forget to drink enough water when they have a busy schedule full of lectures and coursework. Encourage your children to carry a bottle of water bottle with them at all times so they stay refreshed on the go. This is especially important the day after a student party!
So there you have it; plenty of advice to help your children stay healthy when they are studying away from home. Of course, it can be difficult to strike the right balance between a healthy bank balance, a healthy lifestyle, and having fun while at university. But, if your children follow the tips mentioned above, they should be well on their way to a healthier student lifestyle.