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Health Promotion Specialist

Two plates of food
Having regular, balanced meals and snacks ensures your energy levels are at their best and you are getting the fuel you need for your brain.

We all have busy schedules and finding the “time” to eat well can be part of the challenge. I often hear, “But I don’t have time” or “If I have a chance I will try to grab something.” Despite a busy lifestyle, eating well will help you maintain your energy and your brain power so you can succeed.

To start off your day, and this article, let’s talk about breakfast. How many times have you heard “It is the most important meal of the day?” Studies have shown that those who eat breakfast have improved concentration and memory. In addition, people who have breakfast get the energy they need to kick start their day and are less likely to overeat later in the day. How about a yogurt parfait? Sound too fancy? Well if you have a portable coffee mug, try filling it with low-fat yogurt and any chopped fruit (a banana works great) the night before. In the morning you can add a high fiber cereal for crunch, not to mention fiber, iron and B-vitamins, and you are on your way! You want to aim for high fiber carbohydrates and some source of protein at breakfast and 3 of the 4 food groups. If instant oatmeal is a favourite, why not try making it with milk instead of water and adding chopped nuts or fruit?

After a balanced breakfast you want to make sure you have a meal or snack every 3 to 4 hours. The best way to make this happen is by having snacks with you at all times. A great tip for students is to make your own trail mix. Next time you are in the bulk food section of your grocery store stock up on your favorites: nuts, sunflower seeds, pretzels, dried cranberries or raisins. You can keep your trail mix in a reusable container or a zip top bag to have on hand. It’s a perfect snack that provides lasting energy to get you through until your next meal.

Finally, what about those meals at the end of the day? Cooking doesn’t have to be gourmet. Make it fun with a group of friends on the weekend and make a big batch of pasta sauce or chili. These are items that are perfect for freezing in individual portions and can come in handy after that long and busy day or to take with you for lunch. Lastly, we know that the majority of SFU students (88% to be exact), are not getting their daily recommended servings of vegetables and fruit. For males this is 8 to 10 and for females this number is 7 to 8. Sound like a lot? Consider this, each ½ cup of 100% fruit juice counts as a serving or ½ cup of chopped fruit or veggies or a small piece of fruit. It all adds up over the course of the day. So why not pack an apple, orange or some baby carrot sticks? Even canned fruit like applesauce or a dried fruit bar can be part of your daily servings. You might want to keep a bowl of fruit near where you study or work. If you see it, you are more likely to eat it.

Having regular, balanced meals and snacks ensures your energy levels are at their best and you are getting the fuel you need for your brain. We all have goals in terms of our school and work life but we might not realize that achieving these has a lot to do with our nutrition. So why not make a few nutrition goals too and eat well to excel!

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