You know the old saying - you are what you eat. Well, it couldn’t be more accurate when preparing for finals. Diets high in refined sugars and processed foods creates a negative impact on your brain, oftentimes leaving you unfocused, tired, and anxious. Feeding your brain with good quality nutrition is pertinent to staying focused. Here are five healthy eating tips that actually make sense:
- Eat more plants: Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains should be the basis of a healthy diet. Aim for at least half of your plate at each meal being plant-foods. Not only are plant-foods low in calories, but they are also high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fiber keeps us fuller, longer and can help with gut, mental, and immune health.
- Shoot for lean animal proteins or plant proteins: Lean animal proteins such as chicken and turkey breast contain less saturated fat than their dark meat counterparts. Excess saturated fat in the diet can put someone at higher risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, certain cancers, and diabetes. Plant-proteins such as tofu, beans, and tempeh, contain no saturated fat or cholesterol, making it an even more nutrient dense protein source.
- Limit highly processed foods: cookies, crackers, cakes, dinners, and other goods are often loaded with salt, sugar, saturated fats, calories, trans fats, and cholesterol. All of which increases the risk of chronic disease. Focus on eating pastas, whole grain bread, and frozen fruits and veggies.
- Skip the sugary drinks: Studies show that sugary beverages are linked to metabolic disease and are one of the leading causes of obesity in the United States. Drinking just one 12-ounce soda per day is equal to 55,000 calories per year, or 15 pounds! Try fruit spiked waters, unsweetened teas, or sparkling water to get your fix.
- Choose healthy fats: Fat is an essential macronutrient. We need fat for protection, brain health and vitamin absorption but there are some bad apples when it comes to fat. For cooking, stick with fats that are liquid at room temperature such as olive or canola oil. Try adding avocado, nuts, seeds, or olives to your dishes for a good dose of healthy fats.
Small changes each day to your diet can lead to big results over time. You’ll notice a difference immediately, and who knows? You might find yourself sticking to this alternative nutritional lifestyle.