Working as a nurse or medical assistant takes a lot of physical and mental energy. Going to school and preparing for one of these careers can require just as much (if not more) stamina and vitality, because you’re learning new material, often working, and juggling a social or family life. In essence, you’ll be very, very busy.
Being busy isn’t an excuse to skip the meals, eat poorly, or neglect one of the most important parts of your body: your brain! As a student of healthcare, it’s critical to keep your mind in shape by eating the right kinds of foods with lots of vitamins and minerals. It’s definitely not easy, but by knowing what to eat and what to stay away from, you can make the right choices to keep yourself healthy — and in better condition to learn and manage your responsibilities.
Here are some foods we think will support your busy healthcare student lifestyle so you can be focused and productive all day long.
Fish is a great source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins D and B2 — all the nutrients you need to keep your brain healthy and focused while memorizing so much medical terminology. It might not be the most convenient food to prepare on a weeknight, but it’s so good for students to eat to maintain healthy brain function.
The oilier the fish, the better. Wild salmon, tuna, and sardines are fantastic to have on hand since they have high concentrations of DHA, found to help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk heart attack, and aid in memory retention.
Some people are scared to cook fish because its meat is delicate and easily susceptible to overcooking, but you don’t have to be an expert chef to cook a delicious meal. Remembering a few simple tricks will turn that daunting slab of fish into a quick dinner even the busiest of students can enjoy! If you’re running out of preparation time, throw some tuna on a salad or eat sardines straight from the can for a portable snack.
Related Resources: 10 Tips to Sleep Better During School
Speaking of snacks, eating small, nutrient-rich meals when you’re hungry help keep your energy up, especially on days when you’re taking care of patients at your clinical rotation or running between classes, work, and driving your kids to soccer practice.
The addition of snacks to your diet is perfect for keeping your blood sugars in check, but it’s important to remember that not all snacks are created equal. Food has the power to make us feel tired and sluggish or energized and focused. Nutrition counts!
For starters, add hummus and carrots, string cheese, seeds, apples, and nuts to the snack drawer in your refrigerator. Pick foods that are easy to prepare ahead of time, and keep reusable containers handy so they’re easy to toss into your backpack or purse in the morning.
Routinely bringing snacks with you on the go will help cut down on the desire to buy chips or foods high in salt and calories and low in vitamins.
Related resources: 7 Life Hacks for Healthy Living as a Medical Professional
As a student, sometimes it feels as though you barely have enough time to take a deep breath, let alone time to prepare meals. While this may be true at times, you’d be surprised by how much time you’ll actually save by doing so. Don’t forget driving to buy a meal takes a lot of time too! Making a conscious effort to plan meals, go to the grocery store, and cook ahead of time can also help decrease the stress related to the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?”
And let’s not forget the leftovers. Making enough to bring for lunch the next day is a healthy alternative to eating out daily — and saves money for school essentials.
Dining out on occasion with classmates is a great way to blow off some steam and get to know your new friends and future colleagues. Ordering burgers and fries every time, however, won’t give your body the proper nutrition you’ll need to be an active learner. Instead, substitute a salad for tater tots and onion rings. Ask your server to box up half your meal before it’s served to you. Look for words like “steamed,” “baked,” or “broiled” over words like “fried,” “creamy,” and “scalloped.”
Most of all, listen to your body and see how it responds to certain foods. Some foods might give you all the energy to run a marathon, while others can make you crash and burn. We want our students to feel their best so they can bring their best selves to the classroom every single day.