As defined by the World Health Organization, WHO, health is a state of psychological, mental and physical wellbeing free from any disease or infirmity. This is very important for every person in the society regardless of age and sex. It however does not come automatically in life but requires implementation of various principles which include but not limited to physical exercises, enough rest and healthy eating. Of all the minimum requirements of staying healthy, healthy eating is of paramount significance throughout the life of an individual. What is healthy eating? This refers to consumption of all kinds of food to supply your body with all the nutrients it requires at any given moment for the purpose of remaining energetic, healthy and feel good. These nutrients are carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, proteins, water and minerals (The Importance of Healthy Eating).
As mentioned above, maintaining good nutrition is essential for everyone. When observed with physical fitness and acceptable body weight, healthy eating is a medically recommended way of ensuring that your body remains strong and healthy throughout your lifespan. It goes a mile further to ensure that your body has the required immunity to offer protection against diseases and control your mood, a key factor to ones performance whether at work or in college for students. An important factor in healthy eating is that both quality and quantity of food eaten plays a fundamental role in defining the status of your body with regard to wellbeing. This has to come from all recommended categories of foods with a clear mind that deficiency of any single element results into specific health complications some of which are quite fatal whereas others are expensive to treat. To achieve this, having a healthy diet cannot be avoided. Diet defines the kind of food we eat on a daily basis, in a week or even in a month. Since no single category of foods is capable of supplying all nutritional body requirements, it is necessary that a balanced diet be adopted by students.
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Does healthy eating exclude students in various learning institutions around the world? Obviously, no. Like every other person in the society, students equally have to observe healthy eating habits which go a long way in promoting their health and in augmenting good performance. Although this factor is known to many students and young people, research has revealed that students contribute the greatest percentage of people affected with eating disorders and poor eating habits.
Many college students prefer junk and fast foods to whole diet meals offered by institutions or affordable in various eating joints.
Since the effects of poor eating are never instant, many students have ignored warnings and information given to them regarding good eating habits either at school or at home. Nevertheless, many have ended up obese, overweight, emaciated, and moody due to poor eating habits (Turck, 2001). Notably, many nutritionists concur that poor eating habits greatly affect the performance of students since the body is always in a state of nutritional denial. As a result, many body functions are affected because of insufficient nutrients which may include minerals and energy among others. Additionally, brain the central and most important body organ gets affected when a student adopts poor eating habits rendering him/her vulnerable to mood swings, less class concentration and ultimate poor academic performance. Although there are countless factors which affect eating habits among students it is worth double emphasizing that healthy eating needs to be cultivated in the society at infancy when food choices and schedules are made for children.
The need for healthy eating among college students is very important. It is therefore relevant for students to understand major benefits of healthy eating which play a significant role in their life in terms of growth and development, healthy body sustainability, mental and physical fitness. It has been found out that most of the modern diseases affecting both young and aged in the current generation are as a direct result of unhealthy eating habits with preference given to fat saturated food and high sugar content foodstuffs. Such diseases include but not limited to cancer and diabetes. Similarly, high blood pressure among college students has been on the increase. Despite this alarming and fatal trend, there are reasons to be happy about with regard to adopting acceptable healthy eating habits (Gregson, 2000). Although many students are deceived that eating healthy is expensive, the truth is that those students with unhealthy eating habits spend far much compared to their colleagues who observe a simple and healthy eating pattern.
The first benefit of healthy eating is that it plays a major role in management of body weight among students. As recommended by medical practitioners, dieticians and nutritionists, physical exercise is the ultimate solution for losing excess weight and keeping it off. However, this does not independently work in ensuring that a student has an average weight. Some people have been found to respond negatively towards physical exercises although others have found it to be quite essential in managing their weight. Regardless of body response pattern towards physical exercises, healthy eating has the approval of medical experts as the best solution to manage weight. Unhealthy eating affects body weight in two ways causing one to be overweight or emaciated. It is therefore important for students to be conscious of their diet in terms of nutritional content to avoid any negative impact.
Healthy eating is also essential in not only weight management but in maintaining the quality of many body organs. The skin, the largest body organ, greatly benefits from healthy eating. When the skin is well nourished and hydrated, it gains an even tone. Additionally, good eating habits among students keeps them free from diseases and infections, a common problem among people within the adolescence stage. Water, a major balanced diet element is commonly neglected yet scientists affirm that the skin relies a lot on water to maintain its quality and healthy status (Turck, 2001). A healthy skin is an obvious indication of healthy eating habits.
Another benefit of healthy eating among students is that it ensures continuous rejuvenation and maintenance of body strength and energy. Many students with poor eating habits have been found prone to tiredness and regular fatigue. This does not only affect students who eat wrong food at the correct time but also those who eat correct food at the wrong time with in unacceptable quantities. It has to be known to students that learning as an activity requires a lot of energy more than they assume. It involves active performance of the brain and other body organs with regard to concentration and analysis of concepts. Healthy eating will therefore make a student to feel more energetic and experience an increase in metabolic processes.
To add on, healthy eating is very essential in promoting the immune system of a person. It therefore implies that students who observe healthy eating habits increase their resistance capability against diet related diseases which not only affect young people but continue to threaten the entire human population (Gregson, 2000). Even if the effect of healthy eating may not be realized instantly, one may not easily understand what might have happened to him/her were it not for healthy eating. It has been confirmed over the years that healthy eating plays a major role in management of various health complications like adult diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol level and heart problems among many others which continue draining the economy of many nations in laying out counterattack programs and strategies.
Perhaps one of the sectors of human life that receives less attention is sleep. How many people understand the importance of enough sleep in promoting healthy living? It is not strange to find students in colleges neglecting sleep by going to bed very late. Healthy eating is very crucial in ensuring that a student receives enough sleep and rest during the night. This promotes refreshment of body systems and organs in preparation of the following day's activities. Many students if not all with unhealthy eating habits wake up tired almost every day. This is due to the fact that the body spends a lot of time digesting and releasing unwanted material found in junk food consumed during the day. Waking up tired can be very detrimental especially to students who need fresh mind to concentrate and understand class work with ease.
To maintain good eating habits, a college student needs to ensure that he/she consumes a balanced diet and that at the end of every day, the food taken contained the basic nutritional body requirements like proteins, proteins, carbohydrates and fats in correct proportions. There are five categories of foodstuffs which students should eat in a day to maintain healthy living standards. They include whole grains, vegetables and fruits, dairy, proteins and fat and sugar. Whole grains are very rich in vitamins, fiber and minerals (The Importance of Healthy Eating). Common whole grain products are 100% whole grain cereals, bread, wild rice, corn, pastas and oats among others. Fiber helps in digestion processes and prevents constipation.
On the other hand, fruits and vegetables contain minerals and vitamins which are very important in protecting the body against infections. Students should consume five portions of this class of food every day. This could be in the form of a fruit or 100% juice.
On the other hand, proteins should add up to 20% of a student's diet. Proteins help in body building and tissue repair. Common sources include meat, eggs, poultry, fish and nuts. However, excess intake of beef is harmful and students need to avoid. Students also need dairy products in their diets as a source of calcium necessary for strong bones. This can be obtained from milk, cheese and yoghurt. Healthy substitutes should be considered instead of junk food. These may comprise of baked or grilled foods instead of fries, whole grains instead of refined ones, soy milk for whole milk, sweet potatoes for French fries, natural water for sweetened water and fruits for sweetened desserts (The Importance of Healthy Eating). These substitutes are considerably less expensive and more affordable for many students.
It is clear that there is every reason and need for healthy eating among students in colleges and for everybody in the society. However, management boards and parents need to take full responsibility in cultivating this culture among students by discouraging junk eating. Relevant information regarding benefits of healthy eating together with risk factors related to unhealthy eating is imperative in achieving this target. A healthy eating students' fraternity will lead to a healthy future generation.