Healthy eating, student living, and meal ideas
A student shares how you can balance your diet and stay healthy throughout your school year.

As students with busy schedules, eating well-proportioned meals is not often prioritized. Studies show that many Canadians in postsecondary education develop “maladaptive” dietary choices. While it is tempting to order your favorite “Mickey D’s” dish on UberEats and get it delivered within minutes, implementing some healthier meal options within your week can lead to both academic and bodily benefits. 

Ordering from fast food restaurants should not be shamed; everyone does it. But, making time in your week for some healthier meals gives your body more energy, aids in cognitive functions, and leads to an overall healthier lifestyle. 

Although I am not a food expert or nutritionist, here are a few things that I do and meals that I enjoy that help balance my diet.

Eat Breakfast: As students, most of us have been in positions where we must choose between eating breakfast or being on time for class, and we often choose the latter. 

But eating breakfast helps with energy intake and cognition. In a study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine, researchers found that eating breakfast is linked to greater academic performance. 

There are many simple breakfast foods that work well with time-sensitive schedules. These include toast with avocado, oatmeal, berries, bananas with peanut butter, granola and yogurt, and trail mix. Foods high in fiber and protein are best in the morning, giving you the boost of energy you need to start the day. 

Avoid Eating Before Bed: Many experts suggest that you should finish your last meal around three to four hours before going to bed. As Covid-19 has altered most of our schedules, this has become difficult for many students. A study, conducted by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, suggests that isolation brought on by Covid-19 has led to a significant worsening of a typical university student’s eating habits, including eating late at night. 

As everyone’s schedules continuously adjust, making a well-balanced dinner is not often on the forefront of our minds. Personally, I sometimes prefer to enjoy a few snacks throughout the day and sustain myself for a meal at around 7 p.m. Some of my favorite dinner meals include chicken and rice, mini naan pizzas, baked salmon, roasted cauliflower with cheese, chicken burritos, and spaghetti squash pasta with pesto or tomato sauce. 

Whatever your schedule looks like, it is important to leave yourself with enough time to digest.

Have Snacks: Many associate snacking with the unnecessary intake of food or with eating due to boredom. According to Healthline Media, “research shows that certain foods may be especially important for brain health and promoting mental performance.” Such foods include berries, dark chocolate, nuts, eggs, avocados, and citrus fruits—all super easy and enjoyable snacks. 

Eating healthy snacks throughout your day can boost your brain’s ability to concentrate, reduce cravings, and allow you to “eat on the go” during extra busy moments. It allows for the reduction of bloating and unwanted post-meal exhaustion.
For more information on healthy eating, UTM offers free nutritional counselling with Registered Dietitians. To book an appointment, call (905) 828-5255 or visit the Health & Counselling Centre’s (HCC) website. Not only does the HCC allow students to create plans for their specific dietary needs, but they also offer some scrumptious recipes made for busy schedules to try at home!

Theatre Erindale Correspondent (Volume 48)
Julia is a fourth year student majoring in English and minoring in Drama and Professional Writing and Communication. Last year, she had the pleasure of writing articles for the Arts & Entertainment section of The Medium. When Julia isn't writing or watching Netflix, you can find her singing tunes with her guitar, playing board games, head banging to her favourite music, or sipping iced coffee on a patio. She has recently had her poem "Stretch Marks" published in Issue 2 of Wandering Autumn Magazine. You can connect with Julia on Instagram or Facebook.

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