How Food Can Support Your Mood and Learning

students getting food in a cafeteria

Eating can be the most important part of a person’s day, whether that is planning meals for the rest of the week on a university budget or figuring out what to have for breakfast when you’re running late for a lecture. Personal experience dictates eating can often be overlooked in favour of getting somewhere faster or wishing to finish a project first, sometimes that last thing on our mind is food, and we really just forget.   

But food isn’t just something we’re eating to go through the motions, it’s not just a necessity to sustain life, but affects the way we live it too.   

Looking After Your Eating Habits 

A poorly sustained diet can often lead to low blood sugar, especially if you regularly skip meals. This causes excessive mood swings and an overall bad mood because you are not getting the right amount of vitamins and balanced foods into your body. Poor eating habits cause a lack of concentration as nutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamins and iodine are required for brain function and development and reduce irritability. That does not just refer to children in school’s learning and growing, but adults too.  

An unbalanced diet can be not eating enough, or not eating enough of the right substances, and often includes eating an excess of a particular food group – such as a Uni student’s favourite; pasta and rice. As easy as it is to go for convenient foods, say you are eating pasta four days out of seven a week, it’s likely you’re not getting enough variation in your diet.  

Studies show that balanced diets can improve a person’s mental capacity, perception, and reasoning. It also shows that generally, balanced diets create a more positive mindset, and  

leads to more energy to focus on learning.  

Top Tips to Improve Your Eating Habits

  • Have a routine: Set times of the day when you eat, this way you’re less likely to skip meals  
  • Always have a drink on you, even if it’s just water. 
  • Try not to skip breakfast: Whilst it’s not a good idea to skip any meal, skipping breakfast is likely to have a larger impact on the ability to concentrate because it’s the first meal of the day.  
  • Plan a menu for the week: Create a meal plan or a menu to help stick to your routine. Something that works around your schedule so you can figure out budgeting and time – which meals need to be quick and simple, and which meals can you indulge a little more.  
  • If you don’t want to buy fresh, frozen vegetables are always a shout
  • Make things in bulk and freeze them 
  • Always make sure you have some variety of fruit and vegetables.  
  • Cut down on saturated fat and sugar in foods when necessary: This can be done by reading the nutrition labels and adhering to recommended portion sizes.
  • Exercise: Find ways to keep yourself moving, whether this is going for a walk to buy groceries instead of taking the car or cycling around reading. 

Eating properly is important to maintaining a healthy mindset and focus that supports your learning, no matter if you’re young or old. Below are some sites with budget-friendly recipes.

You can find more tips for improving your eating habits on the NHS website.

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