Nutrition is the fuel to success

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Illustration by Estefania B. Alonso

Students should start with smart morning meal, professor says.

By Te Keyshia Johnson

Eating a healthful breakfast and choosing smart snacks will help students to fuel up their brains for a successful semester from beginning to end, said Eleanor Skelley, a biology professor who teaches nutrition at Palo Alto College.

Students who have a nutritious morning meal are fully awake and able to concentrate on what professors are teaching throughout the day.

“If you had a meal a few hours earlier, you are more likely to be alert and able to pay attention to what’s going on, and to think, than if you are sitting there with an empty stomach — or gut, I should say,” Skelley said.

She said an ideal breakfast includes carbohydrates to keep blood sugar up, protein to avoid an insulin response that drops blood sugar and good fats that have soluble vitamins and other nutrients.

Good examples of a nutritious breakfast would be egg whites, toast with light butter and various types of fruits, Skelley said.

Business sophomore Jimmy Sulaica begins his day with a comparable menu.

“I like eating toasted wheat bread with peanut butter and banana slices for breakfast,” he said. “It really gets me started in the mornings, especially for my 8 a.m. accounting class.”

Halfway through the semester, many students might feel overwhelmed due to homework, studying, writing, reading and other demands.

Once they enter finals week, the stress skyrockets and students may crave something unhealthy, like a juicy bacon and cheeseburger with fries and a soda.

However, by eating a nutritious snack or meal, students will probably feel more energized and less stressed out about classes, Skelley said.

When students are studying late nights for a quiz, they might get hungry for a snack such as chips, cookies or other junk food.

But there are better choices.

“Walnuts and nuts are a good choice because they have a lot of nutrients that are good for you, other than chips where you are taking in a lot of sodium instead of vitamins and nutrients,” Skelley said.

She explained vitamins and nutrients from walnuts and other nuts help students stay more focused on studies, whereas eating a whole bag of chips will slow them down from focusing, which results in drowsiness.

College students should think of it as fueling their body with nutrients for a healthy and successful semester.

“My students always say, ‘Healthy doesn’t sound like fun to me,’ but I always respond, ‘Well, does sick sound like fun? … I don’t think so,’” Skelley said.


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