The Stay-Healthy Care Package for College Students 

It can be a tough transition, from the home you grew up in, to a dorm or an apartment.  From a fridge and a medicine chest that were always stocked, to a bare cupboard.  From nutritious meals that appear on the table, fully cooked, as if by magic; to generic cafeteria fare or greasy takeout.  It can be tough trading in your organic shampoo and conditioner for something bright pink and toxic. Not to mention laundry!  Here are some suggestions to make the transition easier. 

1. Protein Bars and Protein Shakes that Pack Real Nutrition.  Sometimes, life gets in the way.  Sometimes, laziness gets in the way!  A good bar maintains energy levels, stabilizes blood sugar, reduces the stress response, and cuts down on cravings for unhealthy foods. 

These days, you can pick up “nutrition” bars at any corner store.  But many are cheap carb-bombs, or loaded with artificial sweeteners and partially hydrogenated trans-fats.  I think of protein in terms of “eggs’ worth.”  I shoot for at least two “eggs’ worth,” or 14 grams, of protein – minimum.  I also like to see some fiber.  Hopefully, there’s some other nutrition in there, whether it’s green food, the healthy oils from nuts and seeds, or the antioxidants in berries. 

All Real protein bars from Ireland are my personal favorite: the first three ingredients are grass-fed milk protein, chicory fiber, and nuts; they have no refined sugars, and pack a generous 20 grams of protein.  Plus, they’ve got compostable wrappers.  I’m also a fan of the Greens+ bars because of their solid protein content, decent fiber, healthy fats, and superfood ingredients like sprouts and chlorella and bee pollen.  They look a little like green Play-Doh, but they taste alright and really satisfy.  Healthy Truth bars are organic, vegan, and made in Massachusetts with pumpkinseed protein and sprouted seeds.  Finally, if you’ve got a nut-free campus, 88 Acres has some of the most delicious nutrition bars out there.  They’re another great Massachusetts company, but the bars are a little smaller, and suited to smaller appetites.   

2. A Good Multivitamin:   To be clear, multis do not take the place of a salad.  They’re not “energy pills.”  They shouldn’t be your #1 pick for immunity.  But if you’re not getting enough salads, they’re at least a nutritional safety net.  If you’re feeling burned out, they at least provide baseline nutrition.  If you’re getting sick all the time, they at least insure it’s not because of a deficiency.  It’s beyond the scope of this article to go into all the options, but feel free to come in and talk with us.   

3. A Great Cookbook (or two) (or three).  When I first wrote on this topic, about 20 years ago, we didn’t have the internet on our phones.  Today, we do.  And the internet has a lot of recipes.  So, do actual cookbooks still have value?   Absolutely!  Even hidden away on a top shelf, the mere physical presence of cookbook will inspire and motivate a person to cook something, eventually.  

Keep it simple, basic, and broad.  Also, don’t get your kids a dumbed-down “college students cookbook.”  They’re smarter and more resourceful than that.  On the other hand, don’t get them Ottalenghi, because how often are they going to have 2 hours and a pomegranate?    

I’ve been a fan of Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian forever, even though I’m not a vegetarian.  It’s relatable, but not condescending or remedial.  Nourishing Traditions is another classic, ideally suited for your DIY carnivore nutritional anarchist.  (I went through that phase, and this book was cool for me then).  Dirt Candy is a vegan cookbook in the form of an edgy, pink-and-black comic book.  Good pick for any edgy, pink-and-black vegans out there.  We’ve got a selection of Instant Pot cookbooks.  Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Debra’s Natural Gourmet cookbooks.   

4. A Good Cold’n’Flu Formula: Sniffles and sneezes are probably inevitable, but a full-blown, knock-you-on-your-butt virus is not.  If you hit back hard on those first symptoms, you more often than not wake up the next morning feeling fine. 

My favorite all-in-one is Wellness Formula, from Source Naturals.  It combines herbs, vitamins, and minerals in a way that works.  However, the pills are enormous, and you really should take a lot of them.  That’s why I recommend using three separate, complementary supplements: zinc, NAC, and a good herbal antiviral.  This way, I support my resistance, increase immune competence, and prevent viral replication directly.  Zinc, I shoot for around 150 mg a day1 in a well-absorbing form like zinc picolinate or Optizinc™.  NAC, I take 600 mg capsules, 2-3 times a day.  For herbal antivirals, I like VX Immune Support from Herbalist & Alchemist, classical Chinese Yin Qiao (preferably Pine Mountain brand), or the Immune Dragon Super Brew when it’s available. 

I’d also pack a bottle of a good immune strengthener, to be taken long term, not just when you’re fighting something off.  My favorite here is the Astragalus 10+ from the 7 Forests company.  The best for when stress and fatigue (i.e. burning the candle at both ends) is taking its toll.  

5. A Fiber Supplement, maybe.  Or maybe a probiotic?  Staying regular isn’t something we often talk about.  But it’s a real thing.  Just sayin… 

6. Flavor!  Send a jar of hot sauce.   

7. A Night-Time or Stress Tea: It’s nice to have something to take the edge off, to help us relax and ease into sleep when we’re away from home.  Or, when our roommate is loud and annoying.   

My favorite tea is Gaia Herbs’ Sleep & Relax.  It’s not delicious, but it’s alright, and it’s effective.  Another tea I like a lot is Pukka Herbs’ Night Time, which is a little gentler than Gaia’s tea, but tastes pleasantly sweet and slightly floral. 

8. A Steel or Glass Water Bottle.  Don’t settle for plastic, or aluminum with an epoxy liner.   

9. Basic Bodycare — Soap, Shampoo, Toothpaste…  This isn’t just about beauty and luxury, but health and wellness: the skin is a big organ, and we absorb a lot of the stuff we put on it, including all 

sorts of chemicals considered “safe” in mainstream bodycare products.  This really is a matter of personal preference.   

10. Something to Clean With: Those Skoy dish cloths we sell last 3-6 months.  That, and some all purpose cleaner go a long way.  

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