Essential wellness guide for first year varsity students

Health & Fitness blogger, Cara-Lisa, founder of Caralishious, shares an essential wellness guide for first year varsity students to help them adapt to varsity life and achieve the best results, this year.

By: Cara-Lisa

What you should nurture your well-being?
It is important to prioritise your well-being – more than anything. Your well-being must be your number one priority above everything else, because it lays the foundation for everything else. Focusing on nurturing mind, body and spirit holistically is essential for physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Grocery shopping

Make a shopping list so you don’t get carried away. Stick to wholefoods i.e. fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, olive oil, legumes, lean animal proteins, eggs, full cream sugar-free yoghurt, and whole grains. With foods that have more than one ingredient, make sure you read your ingredients list and stay far away from any ingredients that you cannot pronounce or do not understand – look closely for hidden sugars, preservatives and fillers.

Always look for low carb, sugar-free (no added sugar) options. Stick to water and avoid carbonated sugar laden drinks – this will also save you money big time! Don’t even visit the junk food isles – these foods are unnecessary and should only be eaten very occasionally – definitely not for your weekly shopping list. Don’t go grocery shopping hungry as you will end up buying way more than you need, and remember to keep it simple!


If you get take-aways, choose banting pizza bases rather than the normal ones and ask for less cheese on your pizza. For burgers, ask for bunless burgers and enjoy a large side salad instead. For sandwiches and wraps go for the low carb options or 100% rye. Keep the sauces to a minimum, but the best option for always take salad – add tuna or chicken strips for extra protein, and dress with olive oil only (no high sugar high fat dressings). To save money and really improve your health, it is always best to cook your own food because it connects you to the food you are making, and it makes you far more aware about portions, and what is actually going into your food. To save time, cook in bulk and freeze your meals, and then you can defrost when needed.

Caralishious (Photo by: Dylan Swart)

Quick meals
Eating healthy really doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Tuna with low carb mayo and seed crackers, or avo on wheat free rye toast are quick, easy and nutritious meals you can whip up without much prep time. But most often I will do oven grilled hake cooked in olive oil with salt, pepper parsley and rosa tomatoes is a cost effective protein rich meal that will keep you full for hours and will ensure you are well nourished.

Salads are also a quick and easy go, that you can enjoy without spending hours in the kitchen – I like to use spinach, microgreens and cucumber as my base, and then I will add beetroot and avo, or rocket and pumpkin seeds, sometimes I add roast butternut, cashew, chickpeas, edamame beans or lentils. Roasted mixed veggies are also always a winner dressed with a little olive oil and rock salt. For me it’s all about lots of vegetables and colour, minimal grains, fatty fish 3-4 times per week, and a stir fry here and there. For on the go snacks opt for fruit, carrot sticks, hummus, dates, and raw nuts. Sugar free, unsalted peanut butter on rye is also a good snack option that is both nourishing and delicious.

Nurturing your mind
Eat lots of almonds, blueberries, fatty fish, and broccoli to keep your mind focussed, responsive and alert.

To oxygenate the body and get blood pumping to the brain, be sure to exercise regularly – 4-5 times a week, more if you can, and also include stretching in your routine. If you are studying and time is tight, even a five minute walk can make all the difference to your mental alertness and clarity.

Be more aware of your thoughts – positive mind, positive life, remember! So be sure to feed your mind with positive and productive thoughts. Work on clearing your mind – the less mental clutter you have, the easier it is to be alert and focused.

Activities that improve your mental state
Reading, Self-reflection and positive affirmations and daily meditation are great ways to improve your mental state to help you to think more clearly, be more focused and function optimally in high pressure circumstances.

Dealing with the anxiety of moving to a whole new environment
Anxiety is multifaceted, but one of the key reasons we experience anxiety is because we worry, stress and constantly think about the “hows”, and “what ifs”. We fret about the unknown, because it is new to us, and we don’t have the information we need yet to determine if we can handle the new environment. So, the best way to reduce anxiety during times of change is to control our thoughts – believe it or not, your thoughts are the sole cause of your anxiety – the more you think about the situation that is causing you to worry, the more anxiety you end up experiencing – because negative thoughts breed even more negative thoughts and eventually you built that situation to be something so big that you feel as if you won’t be able to handle it.

Nurturing of your spirit
I believe that nurturing your spirit is essential at all stages of life – in the same way that we need to consistently work at maintaining and improving our physical health, we also need to work on enriching and nurturing our spirit daily, so that we can grow personally. Personal growth is a journey that we need to be actively working on all the time. The more we grow and improve physically, mentally and spiritually, the better equipped we are at handling the ups and downs of life.

Yoga nourishes both the mind and the spirit (Photo by: Dylan Swart)

Ways to nurture your spirit
Find what you really connect to – for some spiritual enrichment can be taking a long walk and enjoying the outdoors, for others it may be spending some quiet time engaging in self-reflection and meditation, or prayer. Using myself as an example, I find that yoga really nourishes both my mind and spirit, so sometimes physical movement can also be incredibly therapeutic. Paint, spend time in nature,  do something to help others, read, have a nap on the grass, go hiking, speak to someone new, call an old friend you haven’t spoken to in years – do those things that lighten your emotions and make you feel alive again!

Achieve the best results for the year
It is always important to remember that a healthy lifestyle means exactly that – a lifestyle, irrespective of stage of life, age or time of year. Our health is a long-term lifelong goal that we must consistently and continuously work towards in order for it to be bettered and maintained! There is no such thing as a quick fix health solution, and it is for this reason that diets just don’t work. We need to learn how to reappraise our health to encompass not just what we eat, but how we feel, how we think and how we move. Health is holistic, meaning that all facets of our lives need to be operating in harmony – and in order to achieve this, we need to be working towards maintaining this harmony all the time.

About Caralishious
Caralishious is all about rebuilding health and wellbeing to feel, look, sound, smell and taste incredible! Stripping away at all the nonsense and revealing health for all that it truly is! Our health and wellbeing is for us to enjoy, to relish in – to delight in the wonders of a healthy body and mind by nourishing, moving, enriching, relaxing and being mindful daily. No more fads, crash diets, eliminating of entire food groups, myths, or nonsense claims – to hell with it all! From here on out its all about getting back to the bare basics of wholesome, nourishing foods – keeping it real – pure, basic, simple, effective and completely natural!

Instagram: @caralishious

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