Busy school and work schedules often leave students with little time to eat. Students often find themselves grabbing a sugary soda and candy bar, or fast food, to provide the energy needed to make it through their busy days. High calorie intake like this may provide instant energy, but students end up missing out on the benefits that healthy eating provides.
“If you’re not giving your body enough of the nutrients that it needs by drinking plenty of water and eating healthy, your immune system will go down,” Missouri Western R.N. Sandy Kemerling said. She explained that when the immune system is down, the body is more susceptible to illness.
“Stick with the food guide pyramid that’s been sold since we were kids,” she said. “The trick is to find the good carbs like whole grains, and get your sweets from fruits and juices.”
The United States Department of Agriculture has an interactive website that is available to help people make healthy eating plans. MyPyramid.gov also gives information on the importance of eating foods from each level of the pyramid.
Missouri Western students can enjoy a wide selection of foods on campus. Choosing the right foods and avoiding the vending machines is an important part of maintaining good health. Aramark, Missouri Western’s dining services provider, offers foods that are prepared with health in mind. Grilling, baking, steaming and simmering foods instead of frying make a big difference in nutritional value.
“Eating breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” Kemerling said. “If you want to have energy through the day, eating a balanced breakfast is the way to go.” She added that sometimes it’s hard to find time for a balanced breakfast. Students should make sure that they are making wise decisions for the time they have. Choosing juice and a healthy breakfast bar rather than sugary treats, is the way to go when you are on the run.
“It’s important to eat something for breakfast every day,” senior nursing student Kyle Kelly said. Kelly explained that eating breakfast helps kick start your metabolism and make you feel awake faster. “It makes me feel more awake. Plus, it’s easier to pay attention in class when I am not distracted by hunger.”
Staying away from sugary snacks is also important. When hunger strikes mid-day and there is no time for a meal, students should try to choose a healthy snack. Missouri Western students can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables offered in the dining hall and the deli.
“I try to eat healthy snacks like carrots and granola bars during the day. They help to keep my blood sugar up and keep me feeling full,” senior nursing student Amity Lee said. “Unhealthy snacks like candy bars make your blood sugar spike, and then, you crash an hour or two later.”
Multi-vitamins are also important for busy students who are unable to maintain a healthy diet. “Always make sure you know what you are taking,” Kemerling said. “If you do take a multi-vitamin, make sure you don’t take it with milk.” Milk coats the stomach and prevents it from absorbing it properly. She suggests taking vitamins with orange juice and a meal for the best results. For herbal supplements, she recommends checking with your primary care physician.
Kemerling added that staying hydrated and getting exercise contributes to a healthy body and mind. She explained that exercising doesn’t have to be lifting weights or running. Simply taking the time out of the day to take a walk can help burn the empty calories that come from sugary drinks and treats. Drinking plenty of water is also important to supply needed nutrients and stay hydrated. Remember, the human body needs 8 glasses of water a day.
Many factors affect living a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy is just one of the many ways you can help keep your immune system working at its best. For more information on healthy eating habits, please visit: Mypyramid.gov or the dining services page at Missouriwestern.edu.