One body. One mouth. One set of teeth. People get second chances, but no second lives. When it comes to learning how to lead a healthy lifestyle, students suffer from the same information overload that saturates most aspects of this digital age. Health and wellness are discussed all the time, but are we implementing healthy choices into our lives? There are simple, inexpensive steps we can take with our sleeping, eating and hygiene habits that will benefit us well beyond our university years.
Students often pull all-nighters, thinking coffee will solve the problem of sleep deprivation. But less sleep often means more eating. A 2005 study involving 8 000 adults showed that a lack of proper sleep (i.e., less than seven hours per night) can cause obesity, weight gain and overeating. Less sleep also increases an individual’s chances of producing poorer quality work. Most people agree that getting seven or more hours of sleep helps them focus and stay awake in class or work. Waking up to the realities of sleep deprivation is the first step in students maintaining their health.
The second step is deciding what to eat for breakfast. From a young age, we are told it is the most important meal of the day. It only becomes important if the food is nutritious. Breakfast should include whole grains, fresh fruits and leafy greens.
The same amount of planning should go into other meals. The body needs nutrients from real food, not pills or flavour packs. There are local places that sell cheap fresh produce. The Good Food Box project at UVic is a start. You can place an order for food boxes containing local, sustainable produce. Order forms are taped up near the Cinecenta entrance of the Students’ Union Building (SUB). Order forms can also be found on the door of the UVic Sustainability Project office (Room B118 on the main floor of the SUB). The Good Food Boxes range in price from $6 to $18 and are delivered to the SUB once every two weeks. The Food Bank in the SUB basement (Room B017) also provides fresh produce like eggs, oranges, apples, potatoes and onions.
Even healthy foods that come with a higher price tag are worth the investment, as you will likely save on medical bills in the long run. Superfoods like berries and salmon can be bought in bulk when they are on sale and kept in the freezer.
If you don’t have a lot of time for preparation, steam vegetables, rice and meats separately, and then drizzle light, homemade dressings on the meal components if desired. Lemon juice mixed with extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt makes for a light and healthy salad dressing. Reduced-sodium soy sauce mixed with minced garlic tastes great on steamed broccoli or kale.
No matter how healthy the food you put into your body is, you need to give some attention to your mouth after eating, too.
The B.C government recommends cleaning your mouth between snack and meal times by swishing water or brushing your teeth. Snack foods like hard cheese and nuts help slow plaque growth and clear traces of carbohydrates in the mouth. We’ve all been told to stay clear of sugary foods, but acidic foods can be just as dangerous for teeth. Try to drink acidic beverages like soft drinks and juices with a straw to limit damage to tooth enamel. Water is your best beverage option.
As hard as it may be, sacrificing booze money for fresh broccoli, giving up late-night television in favour of sleep and choosing water over juice will earn us better health in the future.