Heading to College? New routines, no home cooking – Here are tips to stay healthy

College will be full of enriching, fun and challenging experiences. One challenge many freshman are not prepared for is staying healthy in college. Without home-cooked meals, a stocked fridge and sports practice after school, it’s up to you to establish healthy habits on your own. You’re responsible for your health now- start off right, by setting up good habits this year to stay healthy all through college.

With a new schedule, tough classes and more freedom, it can be difficult to prioritize your health. Here are some tips for staying healthy:

Get Into a Routine
Your college schedule will make you feel like you have more free time since you’ll spend less time in class than in high school. However, between more rigorous coursework, clubs and jobs, your schedule will fill up quickly. Get into a routine right away that includes eating breakfast packed with protein every morning, working out around your classes and setting specific study hours to lower your stress level so you can– very important — get enough sleep.

Join Clubs
In high school, you may have played sports, took dance classes or other kinds of physical activities. Unless you’re on a collegiate sports team, you’re losing this built-in exercise every week. Sign up for an intramural team or take a fitness class for credit. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn a new sport or activity and automatically get a few workouts in every week.

Beware of the “All You Can Eat” meal plan
Don’t go crazy at the dining hall at every meal. You’ll spend a lot of time in there giving you plenty of opportunities to try everything. Pack your plate with vegetables and proteins. A lot of schools provide nutrition information for the food they serve online. Check it out to plan meals and to make sure you’re not deceived by something that looks healthy. If you find yourself lethargic – take a look at what you are eating. Does your plate mainly have foods that are yellow or brown in color? Then you are eating too many carbs and need to add protein and vegetables.

Find Gym Buddies
A fitness pal is a great way to meet new people and try new workouts. They will also keep you accountable for your gym time- it’s harder to let someone else down than to skip a solo session at the gym.

Avoid Late Night Snacking
While adjusting to the workload, you may spend late nights in the library cramming out your assignments. Food can become a great motivator to stay awake and get work done. If you must snack to stay awake, choose healthy options to keep you going like berries, Greek yogurt, dark chocolate or pretzels. Try your best not to eat carbs (that means pizza and cookies) after 9:00pm.

A packed schedule in college helped me stay on top of my school work. I learned how to maximize my time and prioritize all my tasks. Freshman year of college is an amazing step towards your future but is notoriously harmful on your health. Keep these tips in mind but be sure to have fun too- college is an amazing time in your life, so live it up!

For more information on how living a healthy lifestyle and can help you reduce your risk for cancer, visit preventcancer.org.