Lily McNeil

The College Student's Guide To: Avoiding Stress, Eating Healthy and Staying Fit

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Congratulations, you’ve been accepted into college! Now you just have to make it out in one piece.

Whether you plan to hit the books or the bars (underage drinking, while obviously illegal, is a fact of life at many college campuses), you’ll need to maintain both your mental and physical health. You’re meant to be there to work your brain, so it’s in your best interest to keep it (and the body that supports it) running smoothly.

So how do you manage both work and play so that you don’t burn yourself out after the first few months? Or if you’re an upperclassman, how do you maintain your momentum to cross that final finish line (and be ready for the “real world”)? How will you keep your cool during exams or recover after a weekend (or a Wednesday) of partying? And how do you avoid gaining the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen”?


Lily is super-duper close to completing her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Oxford. She also has a rather non-lucrative Master of Fine Arts in poetry.

“Lily McNeil” is used as a pseudonym at the author's request.


Make most of your meals by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, with a side of good quality protein such as chicken, fish, tofu, or lean meat. Try to avoid processed starches, such as white bread, pasta, muffins (yes, even bran muffins), white sugar, donuts…you get the picture. They create a kind of “glue” in your system that slows down digestion and makes your blood sugar spike, which in turn causes you to be hungry much sooner.

You can get into an unhealthy cycle of sugar spike and insulin reaction, which will exhaust you and it harder to achieve a healthy weight.

Instead, opt for whole grains, which release their sugars into your blood stream slowly. You’ll have more energy over the course of the day, rather than crashing an hour or two after lunch. Experiment: try incorporating brown rice, quinoa, millet, or spelt into your diet. You’ll get some much-needed variety, and maybe learn a great recipe or two. Many people experience allergic reactions to wheat, even if they don’t register those reactions as such. Cut out wheat for a week and see if your digestion and energy improve.

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