Keep extra green this year with these sustainable health tips

One of the key components of remaining healthy over the course of the semester is to eat fresh vegetables. (Sonny Side Up/Flickr Creative Commons)             

As we transition back into our collegiate rhythm, some might have difficulty kicking negative health habits picked up or returned to over break. To help make this transition easier, although more obvious to some more than others, it is important to consider your daily routines and choices. With the stress of new classes and a needed adjustment period, your health can quickly decline and make you more susceptible to sickness. Not to mention that you might be tight on cash after the holidays. So, here are some things that will help keep your energy up, your immune system strong, your bank account happy, and hopefully these become new healthy habits for your 2017 and beyond.

My knowledge on food as it relates to the human body outside of the tongue is limited so I reached out for a little extra help from Erin Kammerer, a nutritionist based near Albany, N.Y., to find out the most common and easily fixable health problems for college students and how they can keep healthy habits.

First off is the stuff your parents (hopefully) told you your whole life. Get at least seven hours of sleep, and be sure you are getting five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. While this is more difficult to do locally at this time of year, frozen foods are a nutrient- and flavor- rich alternative when we are not in the growing season. But next season, you should purchase and can your own fruits and veggies to support the health of your local community.

“If you cannot afford the produce or you simply know that you are going to be missing some parts of your balanced diet, then a basic multivitamin is a great way to fill in the gaps. One supplement that I recommend for those in the CT latitude is vitamin D, especially this time of year, as well as omegas. In terms of day-to-day nutrition, try to avoid meat, buy lean if you have to. It is cheaper and better for you. Otherwise, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, plant proteins, and fish. And avoid processed sugars at all times,” Kammerer said. “Avoid processed sugars and junk food snacks. One of the best things you can do to save money and stay healthy is to pack yourself small snacks like a sugar free granola, or some veggies and hummus. These snacks can help give you the boost you need while you’re studying or in-between classes.”

Exercise is probably the most commonly overlooked aspect of health for college students.

“Federal regulation says that 190 minutes a week is the minimum for a healthy body and can do a lot for students. When all you do is sit at a desk for most of the day and that is your primary focus, making time for exercise can be difficult. But it doesn’t have to be as complicated as going to the gym for extended periods of time. You can fill your quota simply by going on a walk with a friend, choosing the stairs instead of the elevator, or biking to class, that kind of stuff. Whatever it is, just make sure it gets your blood pumping,” Kammerer said.

Hydration is also a huge component of minor and major health problems. The USDA recommends that adult men and women consume around three liters a day on average to maintain health, which is roughly 13 cups of water. A good tip is to buy a liter sized water bottle and simply set goals for finishing it three times throughout your day. Kammerer also mentioned that what you drink other than water can affect you.

“Many college students will drink coffee, sodas or alcohol and do a poor job of compensating with the water needed to balance out these dehydrating liquids and then are frustrated with headaches, chapped lips, and fatigue,” Kammerer said.

That brings us to the next point: calorie counting.

If you have a hard time keeping track of what you ate, or think you don’t have the time the nutritionist recommends using your phone to help.

“There are so many great apps to help you with counting calories and monitoring nutrition. Many of them even have bar code scanners so you don’t even have to input data to the app,” Kammerer said. A big oversight to caloric imbalance is with drinks, especially alcohol. If your goal is to keep healthy but don’t wish to sacrifice your drinking habits, just be sure to understand and act accordingly when considering your caloric input after a party.

Hopefully these tips will help you start off 2017 as smoothly as possible as you transition into the new semester and the new year. Check back next week for more helpful tips on how to keep green.


Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.wood@uconn.edu