She eats it blended, whole, at the table, or on the go. Fruit keeps Junior Krista Rittenhouse fed while she tries out a radical diet to complement cross country running. Although she eats more than fruit, Rittenhouse usually finds herself snacking on an apple or banana between meals that also include the juicy morsels themselves.
Rittenhouse heard about a diet that includes only fruit, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, and decided to give it a go. She originally just wanted to see if she could bring down her race times, but found a door open to a new way of staying healthy.
During their college years, many students struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stress, irregular schedules, and community living combine to create a situation just waiting for too many chocolate bars and Ramen noodles.
Although Rittenhouse’s solution may be an extreme one, she has the right mindset of trying to maintain physical health during her grueling college years. However, plenty of other answers are available to the question plaguing so many undergraduate students: how do I stay healthy?
Lydia Litwiller, a dietitian from North Carolina, stated that the place to start is with a balanced diet. The key is not necessarily cutting out all unhealthy food, but being aware of how much you are taking in. This can be difficult in a college atmosphere, especially when eating in a cafeteria.
With a limited diet like Rittenhouse’s, cafeteria meals can be especially difficult. Rittenhouse stated that she has virtually stopped eating in the cafeteria. She simply finds it too difficult to eat the way she wants without being able to cook her own food. While cooking is often the healthiest way to go, eating nutritionally in a cafeteria is possible.
Litwiller suggests planning ahead. Often cafeterias post their menus, so it’s easy to look ahead throughout the week.
“Planning is important so you don’t overeat all the time. If you plan around your favorite meals, it’s simple to eat healthily on other days to complement the days you splurge,” says Litwiller.
Mara Short-Miller, a Junior EMU nursing student, has learned in her classes just how essential healthy eating is. Although she is currently pleased with her regular diet, Short-Miller is conscious of what she eats and what she avoids.
Rittenhouse also explains, “I do as much as I can reasonably control to stay on the diet and be sane at the same time. Sometimes social situations call for me to eat differently, and that’s okay.”
The website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)gives information about how much of each food group a healthy person should be consuming daily. The CDC website also posts information about the effect of healthy eating on academic performance. Often college students do not realize that what they eat may affect their ability to obtain a degree.
Along with healthy eating, college students often forget or ignore the importance of exercise. Although it is not necessary to be an athlete like Rittenhouse, fitness is essential for overall health. The CDC states that one third of adults age twenty and up are overweight. Since this is measured out of BMI (body mass index), it is not necessarily the largest people who are the most unhealthy. A healthy BMI can be reached through a careful diet and an effort to exercise.
Short-Miller adds, “Exercise really helps me de-stress. I wasn’t exercising during the beginning of the semester, but I’m making more of an effort to fit it in, and it helps a lot.”
For an average person, Litwiller recommends 30 minutes of cardio exercise five times a week. Understanding the hectic schedule of a college student, however, she says that three times a week would suffice.
“Your exercise could include anything from running to ultimate Frisbee, just as long as you’re getting out there,” explains Litwiller.
While becoming a healthy individual takes a lot of effort, it is well worth it. Especially when considering how health affects academics, college students would benefit greatly from giving attention to their eating and exercise habits.
Rittenhouse does not plan to follow her current diet forever, but she states, “If it’s at all possible to make a healthy choice, I will.”
Kendra Litwiller, Contributing Writer