I am lying prostrate on the sidewalk outside my house, and I hate my life.

No, I am not in the midst of passing out from binge drinking. I have just finished my routine Sunday run, but instead of feeling rejuvenated and strong like usual, I feel like I’m going to puke.

There is an obvious explanation for this health conundrum. My stomach is seeking its revenge for the all the crap I forced into it over the course of the weekend.

Ah yes, road trips are great. Get all your best friends and favorite music in a car for five hours, and you’re bound to have a good time. You’re also bound to eat the finest gas station cuisine for the majority of the weekend — white cheddar popcorn, peanut M&Ms, Diet Coke, Doritos — the works.

For many college students, this diet may not sound so far off from their typical dorm room smorgasbord. Whatever the excuse, be it lack of time or lack of money, most undergrads are quick to categorize food as their lowest priority.

I always harp on my friends about eating unhealthy food or, in many cases, not eating at all. Most shrug off my motherly comments, and dig into a container of cake icing without a second thought. “I like junk food,” they say, or “I eat chips all the time and I feel perfectly healthy.”

But then the same friends complain to me about their acne, their exhaustion, their inability to sleep, their irritability, their restlessness and their bad hair days.

No one realizes that these problems are directly connected to food and nutrition—yes, even the bad hair days.

It is impossible to lead a healthy lifestyle without good food. You may feel fine now but what you put into your body affects your health now, weeks from now and even years from now.

Skin problems? You’re not getting enough essential fatty acids. Always exhausted? You’re not getting enough protein. Restless? You’re ingesting too much caffeine and sugar. Really dry or really oily hair? You’re not getting enough Vitamin E, or you’re eating too much greasy food.

The saying is true — you are what you eat. So put down the cookie dough, and do a little research on how to get the nutrition you need. It’s not nearly as hard as it seems and your body will thank you.

By Mary Lide Parker