With the school year back in session, it is so easy for students to fall back into their daily routine of eating food that is fast and easy but not exactly the most healthy. We enter university and revel in the many food options on campus. From Tim Hortons to Subway and dorm cafeterias, students will often opt for food that is the most convenient, especially after a long night of studying. With the numerous fast food options, some students will tend to put on extra weight. They struggle under the pressures of academics that influence sleep patterns and eating habits. For students that want to avoid this phenomenon, it’s important to plan a healthy diet for the incoming school year so they can get the energy they need to perform well.

It’s important to start off your day with breakfast. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast have a healthier weight, are less tired, and are in better moods. Some healthy and quick breakfasts include whole wheat toast with cream cheese and cereal with milk and raisins. People should not go more than four hours without eating because they can become tired and will not have the drive to complete tasks. Some good snacks to keep you going include chopped up vegetables, trail mix, or yogurt with fruit on top.

For main meals, start with core ingredients to incorporate into your meals, such as meats, fish, fruits and veggies, nuts, and natural oils. Try to get foods that are high in fibre like whole grains, lentils, and veggies. Look for recipes that adapt to the items you have in your fridge. If you have leftovers, you can freeze the food for another time, or save it for lunch the next day. It’s a smart idea to prepare lunches for the next day and cook in bulk. This reduces frequency of cooking and worry about what you’re going to eat for the week.

If you live on campus and have a meal plan, stick to healthier options. Go for grilled food instead of breaded or fried foods. Look into what the campus menu will be and assess which healthy items you should eat regularly. Tell your friends you’re eating healthy so they can help cheer you on and give you the incentive to stick to your diet.

It’s good to have a balanced meal to help you get the right nutrients. A good rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with fruits or veggies, a quarter grains, and a quarter meat. Drinks also play a role in your overall health. Drinking lots of water is a must, especially if you’re active. Drink soda   and alcohol sparingly. That’s not to say that having your favourite cheat food or drink occasionally is wrong, but everything should come in moderation.

Healthy eating is only one step to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to incorporate exercise in your daily routine for 30 minutes a day as well. Join an intramural sports club on campus, go to the RAWC for a quick workout, and take advantage of the free exercise classes at UTM, like yoga and pilates, to get you a little more active during the week.

Above all, maintaining a healthy lifestyle comes down to your willpower. If you set a goal for yourself to eat healthy, treat your goal like how you study. Work hard with the tools you’ve been given so you achieve the desired result and you can enjoy university in a healthy way.