A Healthy Start to the New Semester in Three Easy Steps!

Jennifer W. Headshot
By: Jenn Wihlborg

The beginning of a new semester can always be intimidating. New professors, new classmates, and new routines. As a college student, the last thing on one’s mind is their eating habits during a stressful period such as starting a new semester or prepping for exams. Starting a new semester off healthy can be an important component to successful study sessions and being able to stay awake in class. Here are some healthy tips to help you ace your classes this fall!

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1. Protein for Brain Power

Amino acids, derived directly from our diet, are the main components of the neurotransmitters in our brain. Two amino acids in particular have been found to be helpful for studying – tryptophan and tyrosine. Tryptophan has a calming effect on the brain, while tyrosine activates the brain. These two amino acids make up a great combination, as you can power through a study session while taking care of your brain by calming it from stress yet ensuring that it is awake and ready to retain important information. Both amino acids can be found in some easy to pack snacks such as yogurt and cottage cheese, chickpeas, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, peanuts and almonds, bananas, and dates.

2. Hydration 

Ever notice yourself nodding off in class? drip-934948_1920Although this can be due to many things such as lack of sleep or eating meals largely composed of carbohydrates, this may also be a sign of dehydration. Dehydration is directly linked to fatigue which may lead to issues both in and out of the classroom. Making sure that you are drinking 16 oz (the size of one water bottle) per hour can help you stay focused and feeling awake. Adding some fruit to cold water has been proved to help alertness, as well as help those who dislike the lack of flavor that water possesses. Some great fruity combinations would be watermelon and mint, raspberry and lemon, and orange and blueberry.

3. Eat your Vegetables!

If you have ever been around kids, you know that most are not in favor of vegetables. There’s a typical video I always picture in my mind of a family at the dinner table, with the child slipping his vegetables to the dog under the table. I thought as people got older, that would change – yet here I am in college, and I still hear students say “Ew” to vegetables. Veggies are high in nutrients such as vitamins and antioxidants, as well as fiber. Consumption of phytochemicals and phenolic compounds, both found in a variety of vegetables, have been linked to reduction of chronic diseases. Destruction of free radicals, strengthened immune system (which we all know can be compromised while walking around campus), and maintaining a healthy blood pressure arvegetables-1584999_640e just some of the benefits one can reap from eating their veggies! Easy-to-pack vegetables include carrots, peppers, broccoli, snap peas, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers. For those who don’t enjoy raw vegetables, an option would be to mix plain, low or nonfat greek yogurt with a ranch packet. This makes a thick and creamy ranch for dipping that is high in protein and much healthier than store-bought and processed ranch dressing.

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