Before medical school, I was incredibly active. I used to kickbox 3-4 times a week. Now, being in school, it is SO HARD to make time for exercise and clean eating! Maybe not for some, but definitely for me! I wish I was able to manage my time better and wake up early to exercise, but this isn’t always possible. During exams or a late-night study session, all I want is something that is going to keep me awake. Even if that means grabbing a cherry Coca-Cola, chocolate, or a bag of chips. On a normal basis, however, I am very health-conscious especially since I don’t always have time for exercise. This is important for a number of reasons. Good nutrition helps you reduce the risk of certain diseases, helps keep you mentally/physically alert, and promotes overall well-being. Here are a few pointers on how I manage to eat healthy in medical school.
Breakfast: I could be running late to class but still make time to prepare some breakfast. I can’t function without it! My go-to breakfast is an egg and cheese sandwich. It’s filling, quick, and easy! Other days when I don’t actually feel like eating anything, I LOVE to make a coffee protein smoothie. It combines two of my favorite things – coffee and breakfast! What I do is brew some coffee, add it to a blender with ice cubes, a splash of milk, and a scoop of chocolate protein shake powder. I am not a big fan of protein shakes – even when I used to go to the gym, I never liked the taste of them. However, I discovered a chocolate-flavored lean shake/meal replacement that is delicious! I love the smoothie idea because it’s effortless and usually keeps me full until lunchtime.
Lunch: I tend to eat a really small/light lunch because I am usually socializing with friends or at a club meeting. I love a good chopped kale salad! My favorite mix-ins are feta cheese, tomatoes, carrots, garbanzo beans, and cucumbers. As far as dressings go, I use a strawberry vinaigrette that goes PERFECT with the kale and feta cheese! Salads are so easy and one of the best kinds of lunches – you don’t only have to use kale! I don’t normally eat meat, but feel free to add some shredded chicken or steak if you prefer. Another light lunch that I enjoy making is zucchini pasta! I recently got this recipe from a friend and I am obsessed! I shred zucchini into strips, add water and salt, and boil it on the stove for about 10 minutes. Once soft, I strain out the water. I like to add diced vegetables (onions, green peppers, carrots, etc.) to the sauce. Such an easy, filling recipe!
Dinner: I LOVE making soups. One kind that I love to make is a bean and barley soup. I prepare some kind of bean and some barley (you could use rice; I am not picky for beans – kidney, pinto, black, navy – any kind will work for me) and add it to a mix of vegetable broth/water, assorted vegetables (celery, tomatoes, onions, green pepper, spinach, carrots – anything!) and let it sit overnight in the fridge. The flavors really blend together and everything turns out delicious! Another dinner that I love is making homemade burrito bowls. For this, I prepare rice, black beans, add the vegetables (corn, tomatoes, onions, etc.) and mix everything together. You could add some kind of meat to this as well!
In addition, I always keep snacks in my book bag or purse for quick access when I am getting sluggish in class. I often have a few snacks in between my meals because it helps keep me alert, and helps keep my metabolism up. Some things I always have with me are granola bars, fruit snacks, a piece of fruit (apple, grapes, etc.), yogurt, or crackers and peanut butter. I also have a 1-liter bottle of water with me at all times. It is so important to stay hydrated because our bodies are made up of so much water!
What are some of your go-to recipes that you like to prepare? I always love new suggestions and ideas to mix up my meals!