For many college students, maintaining a healthy diet is an extremely difficult task. With all the social eating, drinking, and stress, many college-aged students are creating very unhealthy lifestyles for themselves, which could ultimately negatively affect their health in the future. Young adults are now using eating as a way to socialize, which has caused for a bad outlook on how they view nutrition and food. Even if a person tries to better their health, they tend to feel isolated or even looked down on by friends.
Tori Olker, 21-year-old junior at the University of Mississippi, experiences this first-hand as she works hard to maintain a strict diet and lifestyle change. Last spring, she decided she needed to make a change in her diet and improve her health, inspired by seeing her mother’s health issues get out of hand to the point where serious risks were at stake for her life with her medical treatments not seeming to do as much as they should.
“The medicine wasn’t really helping, so I figured there’s got to be another way”, Olker said. So, I did a bunch of research, I talked to a lot of people including natural doctors in Chicago, and it turned out that fruits and vegetables have so many nutrients and vitamins and they really have helped her so much in her health and helped me change my body completely. I think that fruits and vegetables could change the world.”
Olker herself also made huge changes to her physical appearance, health, and self-esteem in general, losing a significant amount of weight. However, she believes in the outlook of getting strong, not skinny and being healthy, but not anorexic. Too many women college students in particular, yet men as well, change their lifestyle in a very negative way by having eating disorders or taking unhealthy supplementary pills. Keeping up with the diet and lifestyle that Tori does is very challenging to do, but she assures to be incredibly worth it in many ways. Since the start of this massive change in her life, she says she has had more energy to the tasks she has to do in her average day, is doing even better in school than ever before, and just generally feels better about herself exclaiming that she’s never been happier. Who wouldn’t want to better themselves if it meant feeling like that?
Yet, it is definitely easier said than done. Olker understands that this severe a change isn’t that easy for everyone and even if it isn’t to the same level as her change in lifestyle, there are other, simpler ways to better ones self and health. You don’t have to give up everything in order to make even slight changes that could make a really big difference in your health. Just by eating more fruits and vegetables, and getting off the couch and doing a little exercise, big changes can be made to your body mentally and physically. Not every change has to be extreme, but even the slightest change is definitely worth it. Unfortunately, she also understands how discouraging other people can be when trying to make a change.
“I’ve had a lot of people give me a hard time, including really close friends and it makes it really difficult when your trying to do something to better yourself, so maybe instead of coming back at them with more negative comments, I just try to be positive about it and share any tips I can, never push the lifestyle, but just always be there in case they want to change their lifestyle too.”
All changes are scary, particularly ones where one may feel their limiting their social life, but it doesn’t always have to be like that and each young adult ultimately has the choice of how they want to live their life. You can still go out to eat without overdoing it. Menus are suggestions, but you can really order basically anything at most restaurants. They want to satisfy your customer needs and will most likely be happy to help accommodate for your dietary needs. If your friends don’t support that, then that is their decision, but hopefully if they are true friends they will eventually learn to accept it if it means a better you.
Rae Godart, 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Mississippi as well as a friend and sorority sister to Tori Olker, also works hard at improving her health but in a less extreme manner.
“I’m really inspired by how motivated Tori is despite the negative comments people make about it. More people should appreciate just how tough her lifestyle is and support her through it”, Godart said.
It’s hard when the stress becomes too much to handle and that ice cream sundae looks too good to resist, or that trip to sonic is only a few minute ride away. This is completely understandable. Every college students knows how hard it can be to resist that late night junk food when the stress and anxiety gets to be a little too much, which Godart can sympathize with from experience.
“I’ve always had really bad anxiety causing me to get super stressed in school and not realize how much I’m eating, so I make sure to get at least 30 minutes of running in or Pure Barre a day. It relieves my stress like nothing else,” Godart said.
Although this may be really hard to avoid that snack, it could severely decrease chances of obesity or health issues, since this is one of the largest problems causing for overweight or obese patients around the country. Olker suggests people to try snacking on healthier foods or your favorite chips or pretzels, but in moderation. Moderation is a key factor in improving your diet, since this is a term many people forget, but Tori believes is most important. You don’t have to get rid of your favorite snack, but too often people binge on snacks like chips or cookies when they could easily treat themselves to a single serving. Allow yourself to be treated to these delightful goodies, but within reason.
Finally, there’s the problem of calories from drinking. This is a big one. Today, excessive drinking habits are glorified by college students, particularly with the new obsession over the male “dad-bod” image that many women seem to be promoting. Why promote your future husband to obtain a beer belly ladies? And men, why get lazy with the super-fast metabolisms many of you are lucky enough to have? These habits need to stop being glorified and start being discouraged. Drinking is definitely a part of college for many students out there, but doesn’t need to be overdone. If one chooses to go out and have a few drinks, then they should make sure they make up for it with a little exercise the next day or try drinking lighter calorie beverages.
“Just go for it”, Olker said. “You don’t have to give up your life to have a better life.”
Both of these determined women truly believe in the importance of taking note on your food and nutrition habits. After all, our health is what keeps us alive and well to do all the things we love to do. Surely, no one would want to give up that. By just focusing a little more on what you put in your body and how much you choose to eat, you could make huge advances to better your health and have the extra bonus of feeling a sense of accomplishment and boost in self-esteem. Moderation and determination are the keys to her success, and anyone who sets their minds to it can surely succeed and bettering their lifestyle. This horrible outlook on food and nutrition needs to change and luckily there are motivated, strong students like Tori, to help make this change happen and spread the word that it isn’t an impossible and everyone can make a change to be their best self.