Taking Care of Your Health as a Student

There are two kinds of people who graduate high school: the ones who tear up, and the ones who whoop for joy. Typically, majority of students would be excited to break free from their parents’ clutches, and live their life in college. With no parent supervision and lenient school rules, college freshmen are free do what they like. This newfound freedom includes freedom of activity, spending, and of course, eating. From partying with friends to binge-eating potato chips while watching TV shows till late hours, college life can generally be labeled as unhealthy.

Now, we all have been in that situation where we wanted a scoop from that colorful-looking ice cream truck but our parents didn’t allow it. Well guess what? Now you can eat all the ice cream you want. Throwing a pizza party at 3 a.m., having a sushi fest at the nearest Japanese restaurant, challenging your friends on who can stuff the most dumplings into their mouths like Po the Panda, it’s all possible.

It’s common for college students to go ahead with their shenanigans at night since classes are usually held during the day (or if they decided to be nocturnal animals and sleep the whole day). Therefore, more food is consumed at night when they should be eaten during the day, resulting to hormone imbalances in the body. For those who stay up late at night completing assignments and only manage to catch three to four hours of sleep, grumpiness would be your new common trait. In addition to that, due to sleep deprivation, you would eat more. Of course, when we’re in a bad mood and terribly grumpy, healthy and nutritional food is out of the question. Instead, you would turn to junk food, or any unhealthy food for that matter.

But what about after that?

As we all know, overconsumption of food would leave us feeling bloated, tired, and sleepy. Since most of your time is spent on going to classes, studying, hanging out with friends, and eating, when do you have time to burn off all those calories you stuffed into your body? Eventually, you would notice that your favourite shirt feels a little tighter, you can’t seem to fit in your jeans anymore, and- Is that a double chin?

Soon enough, people who enter college as skinny sticks come home for semester break as plump pumpkins. You would dread going to family gatherings because you know that one of your aunts would most definitely pinch your cheeks and say: “My, look how fat you’ve become!” Going out with old friends might be a problem because you’re self-conscious of your body image and afraid that they might comment on it. Younger siblings and cousins would start hugging you because you’ve become a walking marshmallow. Really, how could you let this happen?

To prevent this and stay the healthy beauty that you are, here’s what you can do to avoid Fairy Godmother (A.K.A. food) from turning you into a pumpkin:

  1. Drink lots of water

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Constantly hydrate yourself. Don’t worry if you keep going to the toilet, flushing out all the waste in your body is more important. When you feel like grabbing a snack, drink a glass of water. This way, you would feel full and think twice about that snack you were planning to eat.

  1. Reduce sweet / high in calorie drinks

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Stay away from sodas or any of those chocolate ice cream milkshakes you usually have at your favourite cafe. When buying drinks other than good ol’ water, check the packaging of the drink to see how many calories it contains. If it is a drink served at a restaurant, try googling the amount of calories it contains. If there is no information on how many calories that drink on the menu is, try deducing what the drink is made of and roughly estimate the number of calories the drink contains from there.

  1. Try cooking

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Classes, assignments, tests, club meetings, events, yes, you’re booked for the week. The same goes to next week. And the week after that. You just don’t have the time to buy meat, vegetables, spices, seasoning, or rice to cook up a decent meal like the countless ones you had when you were living under your parents’ roof. Though turning to restaurants, cheap stores near campus, or takeaways (“tapau”) seem like the fastest and easiest way to fill up your hungry belly, it is certainly not good for your health in the long run. According to the University of Sheffield, eating fast food, takeaways, and convenience food are few of the key factors why college students gain weight. What you can try is get some friends and allow each of them (including yourself) to cook something. Then, you and your friends can share the homemade food together without emptying your wallet to buy all the items needed to cook a whole meal all by yourself.

  1. Exercise

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With academics and social life taking over, exercise is the last thing on our minds. Judging on how much a college student eats per day, exercise is crucial to at least maintain their weight. If getting out of that comfortable chair of yours is the hardest thing you would have to ever do in your life, invite some friends to exercise with you. Like studying, your exercise buddy should be someone who would push you and advise you throughout your workout. So, that certain couch potato you might have thought of inviting is probably not be the best idea. Exercising for at least half an hour, three times a day, should be enough to prevent you from gaining a big belly. For those whose college or university provide facilities such as basketball courts, swimming pools, squash courts, gyms, or ample space for a good run, please do take advantage of them.

Well, so far, this is what you can do to prevent weight gain during your college / university life. Hopefully, this helped you to be inspired and healthy.

– Nukey

7 tips to gain weight the healthy way

The words “fitness,” “health,” and “dieting” are often associated with weight loss, although they do not apply only to those who want to drop pounds. Fitness and health refer to keeping the body and mind in a state where it can function optimally, and dieting is defined simply as the types of foods one eats, whether healthy or not-so-healthy.

Whether one wants to lose weight, gain weight or simply maintain their current state, these goals can all be reached through the fundamentals of a healthy diet and exercise.


1. Define your why

The first thing you want is to identify your why. Why do you want/need to gain weight? Some people are naturally thin and want to increase their weight, while others may be recovering from an eating disorder or other disease.

Do you want to put on muscle? Do you want to reach a healthier weight? Are you trying to overcome a bad relationship with food? Defining your reason will give your journey a purpose and thus make it more meaningful.

If you suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or any other medical condition, you should always consult a professional first. These are tips that are meant to be used as a general guideline.


2. Set small and realistic goals

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Setting small and realistic goals can help you to stay on track without overdoing it. Acknowledge each goal you reach by giving yourself a reward.Gaining weight may not be as easy a task as it seems. Just as with weight loss, weight gain can be a  slow process. Take everything step by step and rather than trying to reach one big goal, set small, reachable goals along the way.

Don’t try to go from eating 1200 calories to 2,500 in one day. Increase your calories slowly and overtime you will reach the larger goal.

Setting small and realistic goals can help you to stay on track without overdoing it. Acknowledge each goal you reach by giving yourself a reward.

For example, your goal might be to increase your calorie intake by eating 200 more calories everyday for a week. Once you hit this goal you might ask some friends out to dinner or go shopping and buy yourself the outfit you’ve been wanting. This will help you to stay motivated and keep going.


3. Supplementation

I’m not a huge advocate of supplements. Sure there are some out there that are great, and individuals who experience nutritional deficiencies can certainly benefit from supplementation. But in general a healthy individual can usually get what they need from their diet.

However, for individuals who are underweight supplements can be a great tool to start with until you build up your diet. For example, many people who are under-nourished often experience iron, potassium and calcium deficiencies.

I recommend getting a check up from your doctor to identify any nutritional deficiencies, if any. From there decide if you need to take any supplements until those levels get back to normal.



4. Exercise

To exercise or not to exercise? Depending on your starting weight, you may want to hold off. If your body is quite weak I would suggest starting with a few days a week of exercise. Definitely stay away from any high-intensity cardio as that burns a lot of calories.

I am a huge advocate of yoga as it is low-impact and works on strength, flexibility, relaxation and endurance all at once. Start with some easy beginners yoga workouts. If you’re not a yoga fan then start with some light weight-lifting and/or bodyweight exercises.

Once you’re body starts getting used to the extra calories you may feel your strength is improving as well as your energy-levels, sleep, skin, hair and mental state. Once you get to this point, maybe after about one or two months, you can begin to add to your workouts. Start to do more intense versions of yoga such as ashtanga yoga or power yoga, or begin lifting heavier weights.

Make sure you are still taking it slow and work your way up over time. It’s still a good idea to stay away from high-intensity training or long bouts of cardio.


5. Eat frequently



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Eating frequently, about 5-6 meals a day will help ensure you are getting in enough food. There will be times when you don’t feel hungry but want to make sure you are eating enough calories. Eating every 3-4 hours is a great way to not only get all of your calories in but also to get your body used to eating regularly.

Here is a sample meal plan:

  • Breakfast: 2 whole eggs, oatmeal with all natural nut butter, piece of fruit
  • Snack: whole fat Greek yogurt, sprinkle of granola, some berries
  • Lunch: lean beef, sweet potato, side salad
  • Snack: handful of nuts with fruit
  • Dinner: salmon, brown rice, vegetables
  • Snack: glass of milk and a dark chocolate bar

6. Go for full-fat

In weight loss diets you are always hearing about “low-fat” “non-fat” and “sugar-free” options. Remove these words from your vocabulary for the time being and focus on full-fat yogurt, milk and cheese. If you enjoy juice go for the sugary variations rather than the chemically altered, sugar free drinks.


7. Healthy but dense foods 

Although you want to nourish and repair your body with healthy foods, you always want to get the best bang for your buck. Choose healthy foods that are rich in calories and pack a lot of protein, carbohydrates and fats into a small amount.

Here are some options:

  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Healthy oil
  • Dried and fresh fruit
  • Starchy vegetables

For a quick and delicious snack make a homemade trail mix by combining some nuts, seeds, coconut flakes and dark chocolate chips.


A few last words

Weight gain will take time. The best advice I can give is to go slow and let the process happen with time. Listen to your body and never move onto a bigger goal until you’ve mastered the smaller one.

If you end up gaining a little too much weight, just cut your calories back by about 200 until you get where you want. You can also add in some HIIT training and cardio if too much weight gain occurs.