Healthy Eating for the Weak and Weary: Eating Well for Students

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Today’s guest post on healthy eating is compliments of my good friend Kristopher Ide. Kris is a special person in my life for many reasons, only one of which is the fact that he was instrumental in my learning that I have a gluten intolerance. Besides being an all-around lovely foodie, Kris is also super-duper writerly academic: think fiction, social theory and screenwriting. I’m excited to share his boundless talent with you.

I must admit, sometimes reading about all the wonderful food items covered in this blog actually pains me. As an insanely busy student who goes to class in the mornings, works part-time in the afternoons, and splits time between clubs and theatre rehearsals nights and weekends, procuring good food, slow-cooked with care and love, can be an infrequent luxury. Throw any number of dietary intolerances or allergies on top of that, and healthy eating is next to impossible.

While sometimes literally running from one commitment to the next, food choices often become a complex equation of proper nutrients multiplied by budget constraints and divided by the square root of availability, where X is the constantly shifting variable of cancelled meetings, mis-scheduled appointments, paper deadlines, and amount of sleep needed. Much of the time it’s easier to grab some quick, processed, pre-packaged nightmare from a vending machine or fast food outlet and wash it down with an energy drink, rather than to seek out healthier, more nutritionally dense options that will better keep the body going and the mind sharp.

If students have never taken a course in nutrition, they might not realize the positive role quality food choices can have on their educational career. Many eat potato chips and ramen noodles from week to week, and wonder why they’re tired all the time and can’t concentrate in class. Here are some simple ideas to show that, with a little effort and some time management, it is possible to eat well, be involved in everything, and still bring that “A” home.

  • Before tests, don’t reach for that sugary fruit juice or caffeine-laden soda. Your brain might quit halfway through when your blood-sugar crashes. Eat an apple, a banana, or some dates instead; the fruit sugars are great carbohydrates that will carry your brain further.
  • Make time for one night a week where you cook a feast for yourself. Cook up a huge batch of pasta, a big casserole, pot of soup, or a complex stir fry with a ton of rice. You’ll feel fulfilled for at least one night, and with the right to-go containers, you can eat your masterpiece for lunches through the week. Your friends will be jealous, too.
  • Never leave the house without fresh vegetables, fruit, or both in your backpack. It may take some prep time to wash, peel, or slice, but nature’s perfect vitamins can save you in a pinch or be a guilt free supplement to that quickie meal of pizza or nachos they sling in the cafeteria.
  • Make sure your schedule enough time to actually eat and enjoy your food. Even a healthy meal scarfed down while sprinting to class won’t make you feel all that great, so sprawl under a tree or on some grassy knoll and take a few deep breaths before you put anything in your mouth. If eating your food is an experience rather than a chore just to stave off collapse, you might find yourself making healthier and tastier choices anyway.
  • No matter what you do, make sure you keep reading this blog, because sooner or later you will graduate, and you’re finally going to have more time to make the food that’s best for your life.

Heh, thanks, Kris. 😉

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Comments from other ninjas:

  1. Babette says

    Linking this to my college age son who really does like to cook…Hope he’ll pay attention.
    .-= Check out Babette

  2. Faith Kramer says

    Good ideas once a student has some ability to cook and/or has access to healthy prepared foods. My poor college freshman is on a pretty isolated campus with no access to cooking and no cafeterias, all fast food courts on campus. His best bet is often Panda Express. He hungers for fresh fruit and vegetables. (Plus its expensive even with his student “discount” food plan.)

  3. jannybananny says

    I’m currently in my fourth year of university, always involved in one activity or another and never had much experience cooking for myself. I have been gluten-free since midway through first year and had to learn pretty quickly. Now, i’ve got my routine locked down solid, I put things in the slow cooker, pack some servings into the freezer(for upcoming weeks and to keep some variety in my freezer), and put at least one serving in the fridge for that week. I pre-cut all my veggies, and place them in water-filled containers in the fridge. It makes for a great morning when I know I have some choices for the day just waiting to be put in my backpack. This article says it all. I just stumbled upon this blog yesterday and its forever book marked in my browser. Thank you!

  4. Iowa injury lawyer says

    It seems like these rules could be applied to anyone in a rush. Thanks for the guest post; a joy to read.

  5. Clara says

    This takes me back to my college days when healthy+eating just did not exist in my vocabulary! I wish I had paid more attention to nutrition back then. Great post.


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