How to Be a Smart Eater


Photo courtesy Catherine Zheng

Prep’s infamous breakfast burrito

Regardless of whether you choose to buy lunch at Prep or bring your own lunch, it is important to be mindful of nutrition in order to take care of your body and well-being in the best way possible. There is no doubt that Prep food is tasty; our menu boasts classics such as breakfast burritos, chicken tenders, and french fries, as well as unique daily entrees that reflect meals from around the world. Yet, Prep also offers plenty of healthy food and beverage options to try. For example, the greek salad and arugula salad are great examples of entrees rich in fruit and vegetables. Incorporating some of these healthier meals into your school day is a simple way to get necessary nutrients.

It is also important to monitor nutrition outside of school. One of the most important aspects of nutrition for high school students is eating breakfast. Too many teens skip eating breakfast because their mornings are rushed. Studies show that skipping breakfast can negatively affect energy levels and academic achievement. It is recommended to eat a large breakfast, a medium-sized lunch, and a small dinner. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day!

Eating meals at the right times also improves nutrition. Human metabolism follows circadian rhythms that make metabolizing most effective in the morning and afternoon, and least effective right before or after sleeping. Thus, it is best to restrict eating to an eight to ten hour window during the day. Doing this is shown to lower blood pressure, insulin levels, and stress.

After eating the right sized meals at the right times, the next step is to sit down and eat meals with your family. Although this can be incredibly difficult in today’s world of busy schedules and substantial workloads, trying to be together for at least one meal every or every other day can make a positive difference. A study by Columbia University found that families that eat five to seven meals together per week greatly benefitted in relation to families that ate less than five meals together. By eating with their parents, children were found to consume more fruits and vegetables, get better grades, and have higher self-esteem levels.

Other factors that can negatively impact diet include stress, sleep deprivation, and dehydration. Stress in particular influences nutrition by hurting metabolism. A study in Biological Psychiatry found that even thinking about a stressful event causes you to burn 104 fewer calories. Therefore, practicing de-stress tactics, like meditation and exercise, can benefit nutrition in addition to well-being.

All in all, finding ways to eat nutrient-rich meals, including breakfast, with family in shorter windows of the day can help you establish a healthy diet and lifestyle.