In boarding schools, students don’t have their parents around to watch them at all hours of the day and make sure that they’re making sensible decisions about things like health, nutrition, and exercise. Because of this, some students take advantage of the lack of supervision and fail to look after their health. Ice cream for lunch? Sure! Skip breakfast? Yes, more sleep! Unfortunately, this can mean that they end up suffering more frequently from illnesses thanks to a weakened immune system – and become more likely to experience problems like obesity and fatigue.
Students who focus all of their energy and time on studying also often fall victim to forgetting to watch over their health. Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as it may seem to stay on top of your health when you’re in a full-time educational environment. All you need to do is follow a few basic guidelines to ensure that you’re keeping your mind honed on the essential aspects of good health.
Start with Good Nutrition
Nutrition, (or food), is how you get your energy to help you stay fit and focused on the tasks ahead. Without the right nutrition, you could end up suffering from symptoms like bloating, lethargy, and a general sensation of not feeling well.
In fact, many students who eat poorly for long periods of time end up suffering from vitamin deficiencies that can weaken their immune systems, and make them more prone to illness.
Boarding schools like Hyde are prepared with a dining hall or cafeteria where you can meet with your friends and enjoy some cooked meals. However, no-one is going to tell you what to eat when you’re at boarding school. Instead, you’re responsible for picking your own foods. Obviously, while it might be tempting to eat from the pasta bar every day – that’s not going to do much for your health. Instead, you’ll need to keep the following concerns in mind:
- Nutrition: You don’t have to be a dietitian or nutrition expert to look after your health at boarding school. However, you should have a basic knowledge of which options are healthiest, and what kind of balance you should maintain between the various food groups. Remember to include vegetables, fruits, and sources of lean protein in your diet.
- Balance: If you must choose something unhealthy for your meal, then try to balance it out throughout the day. For instance, if you have a slice of pizza for lunch, then have a meal filled with vegetables at dinner – or a dessert that’s brimming with fresh fruit.
- Calories: Finally, think about your activity levels when you’re choosing your meals. If you know it’s Sunday and you’re going to be studying all day and you won’t be moving much – then don’t load up with heavy meals. This is just going to make you feel sleepy. On the other hand, if it’s a Wednesday and you’re going to be playing sports all afternoon – you’re going to need some energy.
Mrs. Collinson, Director of Communications at Hyde, offers this suggestion to students, “When choosing your food at mealtimes, always include a colorful salad from the phenomenal Hyde salad bar. It’s important to eat foods from all over the rainbow, and our salad bar has so many fresh veggie options, including locally grown lettuce from SpringWorks farm. I also like to substitute cottage cheese in place of using calorie-dense dressings.”
When you’re at boarding school, it can be easy to fall into a rut that involves a lot of sleeping – a lot of late-night studying (or video gaming as is sometimes the case), and not much time remaining for exercising and staying active. Fortunately, a lot of boarding schools are well-equipped with solutions for extracurricular activities designed to get you moving again. For students at Hyde, they are required to play a sport each season specifically to make sure they are getting in regular workouts as well as building their self-confidence and community spirit.
For students not required to be active in sports year-round, here are some suggestions for staying active and healthy:
- Visiting a gym: If your boarding school doesn’t have its own gym – which is probably quite unlikely in today’s educational climate, then there should be a local fitness center or YMCA in your area that’s open for most hours of the day. Join up and devote some time to staying active.
- Be part of a team: A great way to stay active and improve your social skills is to join one of your school’s sports team. Find a sport that you enjoy and figure out a way that you can get involved with other people in your school.
- Explore: If nothing else, try to spend some time on your feet exploring the campus and the city surrounding your boarding school. Most students don’t have their own cars, so the chances are you’ll need to walk anywhere you need to go. Even if you have to ask your friends to go with you for a coffee somewhere in town – this should force you to get active and burn some calories.
Avoid Health Danger Zones
Once you’ve got nutrition and activity sorted, then the only thing left to do will be to consider the dangers and temptations that lurk all around in a boarding school environment.
Unfortunately, as fantastic as your campus might be for offering extracurricular activities and healthy meal options, chances are that there are still plenty of bad habits that you can take up that could ruin all of your hard work away from home. Avoid these pitfalls at all costs if you want to be as healthy as possible during your education:
- Stay away from Soda and Alcohol: Boarding school and college students should always avoid drinking their calories in the form of alcohol and soda. At Hyde there is a reason we don’t offer either in the dining hall! While you should generally stay away from alcohol as much as possible during your younger years – soda can also be a serious threat due to its high levels of sugar and caffeine.
- Don’t eat midnight snacks: No matter whether you’re staying up all night trying to cram information into your brain in time for a big exam – or you’ve been kept up by your dorm-mates, make sure that you don’t eat after 8 PM. Keeping to a deadline will help to ensure that you don’t disrupt your sleeping habits with excess foods. Your body will struggle to digest late-night snacks, which means that they remain sitting uncomfortably in your stomach all night long.
- Avoid junk food: Finally, high-calorie foods that you can shove into your mouth by the handful simply don’t help your health. Not only are most forms of junk food brimming with sodium and fat, they can also make you feel tired and unmotivated – which causes you to ditch your study plans and workout sessions.
If you continue to struggle when using the tips provided above, you could always consider teaming up with another friend at school who is suffering from their own unhealthy lifestyle choices. Working with your friends can give you someone to hold yourself accountable to, and you both get someone who reminds them to choose the healthier option when you’re sitting together at lunch.