You’re in college and you’re having the best damn time of your life. Suddenly you realize you probably should attend your classes, be a productive member of society, change out of your flannel pajama pants and North Face jacket, and most importantly – stay healthy.
College is and will be one of the most exhilarating times of your life. The memories of the people you meet, the trips you take, and the decisions you make will stick with you for the rest of your life. However, sometimes a good decision at the time can lead to a poor result later. (See: outcome of an all-you-can-eat buffet at the main dining hall after a night of drinking).
After talking with many college students, recent graduates, and young health professionals from across the country, I have compiled a list that I refer to as “The 5 Destructive Habits of Highly Unhealthy College Students.” Trust me; this is a party you don’t want to be part of…
1.) Don’t brush your teeth or floss regularly – I know what you are thinking, “really, people don’t do this regularly?” According to the American Dental Association (ADA), roughly 10 percent of the US population actually flosses daily while 32 percent of the population brushes their teeth only once a day. Furthermore, 71 percent of the population said in a recent study they would be less likely to date or marry someone with bad breath, a bad smile, or poor oral hygiene habits overall.
In addition to less romantic afternoons on the quad/green and glow and the dark hearts drawn on your sleeve at highlighter parties, not brushing or flossing regularly will lead to bad breath, bad game, gum disease, cavities, staining of the teeth, and even heart disease. So the next time you think twice about cutting out time to brush up on your dental hygiene, remember, you may be putting your smile, heart, and love on the line… Is that a risk you are willing to take?
2.) How many energy drinks are there in a day? – If you have actually spent time thinking about how many caffeinated beverages you can fit into one day, it may be time for an intervention. Wait, don’t talk to me, I haven’t had my holycrapaccino yet from Starbucks. Seriously though, people that consume just as little as 100mg of caffeine a day can develop a physical dependence that results in withdrawal symptoms, such as headache, fatigue, and irritability.
(FYI- These symptoms can also been seen as the end result of studying and taking an organic chemistry test)
Believe it or not, caffeine is one of the most commonly used drugs on college campuses. It’s of no surprise when the average college student tries to cram a 27 hours day into an 18 hour time slot.
How can you avoid the caffeine craze? Focus your efforts on being more consciences of your time management; learn to say no from time-to-time (i.e. meetings with friends, student and Pan-Hellenic commitments, How I Met Your Mother reruns), turn off the cell phone, get off Facebook, stop tweeting, and pin that exercise or recipe tomorrow. Cram less, plan more, relax, and pace yourself. Trust me, when it’s all over, you’ll wish college had never ended so slow down and enjoy the ride 🙂
3.) Oh, that’s what a kitchen is for… – Don’t get me wrong, my undergraduate school had some of the best campus food ever. I’m not kidding; we were nationally ranked on quality and taste. Go Dukes! However, eating on campus or bringing in for every meal is going to take a toll on your wallet, watch, and waistline. There’s no better way to have fun with friends, experiment, and learn very important life skills than finding your way around a kitchen (yes guys, you too –- chicks dig the soufflé).
Numerous studies have shown an increase in fat, caloric, and sodium intake from eating out or at places that mass produce food. Plus, an all you can eat buffet to a college student is like playing an English major in WordsWithFriends – no matter what your strategy is at the start, you’re still going to end with a crappy result. So take your friends to the grocery store, stick to purchasing items around it’s’ perimeter, and head back to the kitchen and have fun. Accept failing, but never failure. Bon Appétit!
4.) 7 bars around your campus and 7 nights a week is just a coincidence – The fact of the matter is, most college kids will consume alcohol during their 4 -8 year stint in undergrad. And alcohol isn’t necessarily the devil either. In fact, there are many health benefits to drinking alcohol in moderation. Such as possible reduction of risk of a heart attack, dying of heart disease, strokes, gallstones, and possibly diabetes. However, the key here is moderation.
Unfortunately peer pressure seems to be just as abundant as alcohol on college campuses.
It’s important to be strong and stay true to yourself. There is nothing sexier in my mind than an individual who follows and carries themselves on a certain belief system and set of values and sticks to it. An increase in alcohol consumption usually leads to a decrease in class attendance, academic and sexual performance, and an increase in behavioral issues and general illness.
Do not turn into a statistic, instead, stay a you. Have fun, enjoy your time, and celebrate the best damn years of your life… but in moderation of course.
5.) It’s ok, I’ll get to know him or her in the morning – it’s of no coincidence that this habit follows immediately after the PSA on alcohol consumption. Sex, sexual activities, and sexual preference are all personal choice. There is no right or wrong answer here as really, the decision is up to you. However, some of the highest rates of sexual intercourse, unprotected sex, sexual assaults, and sexually transmitted infections fall in the 18-22 year old age category.
I repeat, sex is not an ice cream shop. Just because a college campus is full of flavors doesn’t mean you have to try them all. Get to know someone, learn who they are, what they are looking for, and when possible learn a little history about their previous partners. There is absolutely no reason to rush into things with anyone. If they truly want you, they can wait.
The best advice I can give is that if you want to know if someone really likes you, listen to nothing they say and instead only pay attention to what they do. You’ll figure out real quick where their heart and their head lie.
Be safe, have fun, and enjoy good company. Just don’t let one night of fun turn into a lifetime of regret or disappointment. And whatever you do, don’t let the red solo cup next to your bed in the AM be the way you learn their name.
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