When you have two midterms to study for, a research paper to write, hundreds of pages to read, and summer job applications to send out, healthy eating might be the last thing on your mind. In fact, you may be so wrapped up in your work that you’re skipping meals, or grabbing the first source of sustenance – likely something straight from the vending machine – that you can find. But eating well, in addition to being essential to maintaining our health, can actually make us more productive. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, eating healthy doesn’t have to be time consuming. Even the busiest of college students can find ways to work healthy diets into their routines if they follow these simple tips.
1. Never skip meals
While it might be tempting to do so when your workload is overwhelming, skipping meals causes you to feel tired later in the day, thereby reducing your productivity. Additionally, when you skip meals, you are actually more likely to fall prey to those pesky sugar cravings. Thus, by skipping meals, you might be setting yourself up for a day of unhealthy eating.
2. Plan ahead
If you just read that first tip and are wondering how you can avoid skipping breakfast with your early morning lecture, or how you can find time to eat during the day when you have back-to-back classes and meetings, here’s your next life-saving tip: always plan ahead. Make sure to have something for breakfast ready the night before that lecture, so you can grab it on your way out the door in the morning. Pack some healthy snacks before you leave your dorm so that you have something to nibble on in between your classes. Pick up something to eat on the way back home if you know you’re going to be up late working on that paper. A little planning can go a long way. If you’re always prepared with a healthy snack when you need it, you’ll be much less likely to grab a bag of potato chips or a sugary sweet snack from the nearest vending machine, and, with the right nutrients, you’ll be in much better shape to tackle your work.
3. Pack in the protein
Did you know that protein, in addition to its many other benefits, can actually keep you fuller for longer periods of time? To keep you sustained for your morning classes, incorporate some protein into your breakfast. Opt for Greek yogurt with your granola, get a scoop of protein powder in your smoothie, or spread some almond butter on your toast. For a healthy midday snack, have a protein bar, like one of these delicious Garden of Life bars, made from whole food ingredients. To get you through the night, try some sliced apples with peanut butter or carrots with hummus.
4. Think simple
Healthy meals don’t have to be elaborate ones, and you don’t need to be an expert chef to prepare them. Most of the time, you can make yourself a healthy meal with ingredients you’ve picked up at your dining hall. A few slices of bread, an avocado, and a small salad can turn into delicious avocado toast, and some fruit, granola, and yogurt can be made into the perfect parfait. Get creative with the foods that are readily available to you.
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Rather than going on a crazy juice-only diet, or even completely eliminating sweet treats, choose moderation. If you’re too extreme, you’ll likely revert to old habits of unhealthy eating. Allow yourself the occasional dessert or side of fries. And have fun experimenting with different kinds of foods to see what you like! Your diet is far more likely to be a sustainable one if you’re enjoying the foods that you’re eating.
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