You’ve heard the saying – you are what you eat. If this were possible, it’d never have been more likely than when I discovered fro-yo and lived off of it for a week. As I am not bearing any traces of being fro, nor yo, I conclude the old saying isn’t accurate.
What is true – brain function is linked to nutrition. My case study on the effects of poor nutrition? Honey Boo Boo and Go Go Juice. ‘Nuff said.
You probably already know about the correlation between nutrition and brain (and body) function. The real question then becomes how to get the nutrients your brain needs on a busy med school schedule. Picmonic comes to the rescue with 10 med school food hacks!
Break the Fast.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Not eating breakfast is like starting your car on E, with the promise of filling the tank later. You wouldn’t get very far, right? So how do you eat breakfast without robbing yourself of precious sleep?
- Smooth operator. Combine daily smoothie ingredients into Ziplock bags and store them in the freezer. In the morning, toss one baggie’s contents into your Magic Bullet or blender, blend for 30 seconds and rush off, breakfast in hand. Excellent ingredients include sliced bananas and other fruit, spinach, protein powder, peanut butter powder, plain yogurt and mixers such as almond milk, Rice Dream or water.
- An egg-cellent idea. Did you know you can cook eggs in a microwave? Or you can boil a dozen in advance. Also, if you haven’t heard of an egg bake, you haven’t lived (minor exaggeration). You can prepare eggs in many different ways, but beware if you bring them to your USMLE Step 1 study group. You’ll be that stinky guy.
- Grab a breakfast bar. While we don’t recommend eating processed foods every morning, in this case, something is better than nothing. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own bars!
- Oh-so-oaty. Another dish that’s easy to make Sunday night to eat all week is baked oatmeal. You can eat it as is or pour some cold milk over it in a bowl like cereal (I recommend mixing in some nuts, spices and brown sugar). It’s good hot or cold, and you can make endless variations of this dish.
Trade Chips for This.
- Get your blueberry on. If you have time to eat a bag of Cheetos, you have time for a serving of blueberries. Commonly referred to as the chips of the fruit world, once you pop a carton of blueberries, you often can’t stop. This gluttonous approach to these small antioxidant-rich berries is a good thing. Research shows compounds in blueberries called polyphenols are like Match.com for neurons; they get lonely neurons talking to one another and may even enable the brain to grown new neurons.
Not a Crock.
This ain’t yo Grandma’s kitchen, but we’re about to suggest you borrow from her recipe book.
- Invest in a crockpot. Picture this: 10 minutes prep time before bed includes chucking a bunch of ingredients into a crock pot, then you wake up from your customary 6 hours of sleep to find a week’s worth of meals awaiting you. Is it kitchen fairies? No, but it’ll feel magic when you feast on healthy, home cooked meals for a week for the same labor it’d have taken you to stack a towering Lunchable sandwich. (Note: If you’re still eating lunchables, see us after class.) Our favorite crockpot recipes are here.
Don’t Cut the Fat.
The brain is the fattiest organ of the body. Thus, it needs healthy (meaning unsaturated) fats to thrive. Load up…
- Get fat. Polyunsaturated (healthy) fats are found in fatty fish (such as salmon), walnuts and flaxseed. Dine on salmon once a week, and feel the benefits of these omega-3 and omega-6 powerhouses as you blaze through Picmonic study cards.
- Toss ‘em back. Another healthy fat comes in bitesize morsels perfect for on-the-go munching: Almonds. A small handful is your daily serving size (about 7-10 almonds).
- Avo-your-cado. Avocados are nearly as effective as blueberries for promoting brain health. They also lower blood pressure (good for that extra stressful pre-USMLE test day) by being a monounsaturated fat. Add half an avocado on the side of any meal.
- Be seedy. Nuts and seeds contain vitamin E, which helps cognitive function. My favorite way to get my seeds for the day and satisfy my carb cravings is Dave’s Killer Bread, also high in omega-3. You don’t know it yet, but I’ve just changed your world.
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