You Are What You Eat: How Your Diet Can Help You Succeed in School

An assortment of small bowls containing healthy food items such as vegetablesSome of us may have been trained since pre-school that “You are what you eat.” For most, it’s just a phrase—something memorized so early on in life, that we really didn’t give it much thought to what it actually meant—very much like a nursery rhyme or some catchy commercial tune that’s subconsciously embedded in our heads.

You are what you eat.

What exactly does that mean?

Whatever you eat, your body consumes it. Your body is going to process it into one of three things: fuel, waste, or fat.

Fuel, Fat, & Waste

Very much like a vehicle needs fuel to operate, your body needs food to function well. Your body will process all of the nutrients out of the food you eat and use it as fuel to recharge your body and keep it healthy. When your body has reached its capacity of food, the body then turns the rest of it into waste. Now, your body can only process so much waste at a time. The food that has already been consumed that is no longer needed for nutrients and cannot be processed for waste in time is left to just sit there and do nothing…which over time turns into fat. Fat brings about weight gain and weight gain can cause fatigue making you move less and feeling less energized.

How Fatigue Affects Your Study Habits

Feeling less energized can have a negative affect on your academic studies.

Let’s take the holiday season for example. During the holiday season, everyone is cooking and baking his/her specialty dishes and you want to sample them all! And you do! So what generally happens when you overeat? You go to sleep. Why?

Even if you have eaten and have stocked up on all of your bodily nutrients, but you’re still eating, then you’ve over-eaten and you’re putting your body under more work of trying to process the food that you’ve consumed. You go to sleep because your body is working overtime trying to process all of the food that you’ve over-eaten. So during the holiday season, school is out so you really don’t have to worry about any academic studies, but if you’re over-eating throughout the school year, you’ll soon find that you may be too tired and/or sleepy (fatigued) to read multiple chapters from a textbook, much less remember them for exam time.

So Are You What You Eat?

So when it’s said that “you are what you eat,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you eat a chicken, then you are a chicken. However, by consuming the chicken, you are ingesting whatever that chicken has eaten to keep itself alive. For instance, some chickens live off corn. They eat corn to get all of the nutrients out of it. And what they cannot digest is laid to waste. If the chicken is pumped with hormones to make it plumper, then you’re also consuming those hormones. That is why it’s becoming increasingly important to look at the type of foods that you’re eating.

More and more, you’ll find that food companies are advertising its products as “cage free”, “hormone free”, “no artificial ingredients”, etc. That is because more people are becoming aware of what kinds of foods they are consuming. Having a better understanding about what’s in your food has taken a toll on America as a whole addressing the epidemic of obesity.

Research on Overeating

According to Public Health, the “U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American ate almost 20% more calories in the year 2000 than they did in 1983.” This has a lot to do with meat consumption and added fats. Consequently, additional research that was published by the World Health Organization found that 11% of the American diet is made up from the consumption of fast food.

Not So Fast with the Fast Food!

As a college student, money can be scarce and fast food is cheaper than ever to get these days. For only $2, you can get an entire meal. But what you have to take into consideration is what actually comes with that $2 meal. The additional fats that most fast foods are made up of along with the added sugars from sodas and energy drinks that you might want to guzzle down during mid-terms and finals are all too tempting to consume. But the long-term effects are more likely to outweigh the immediate gratification you’re looking to achieve.

Beware of the Addictive Need for Fast Food

This usually leads to an addictive behavior of needing more of the fats and sugars to give you that initial push of energy that you’re looking for—one that is short lived that makes you go into that cycle of buying more and more until you’ve realized only too late that you’ve gained weight. And because you’ve gained weight, you’ll most likely find it a little more challenging to physically move from one place to another because your body is forced to carry more weight.

So What Does This Have to Do With Succeeding in School?

Keeping your body fueled with the necessary nutrition it needs to function is critical to helping your mind function well. By staying healthy and energized, you are more likely to have a better chance concentrating on your academic studies.

Supplying your body with a sufficient amount of nutrients will provide you with just enough energy to stay focused on your academic studies. Portion-control is key. Seeing to it that your body is taking the right amount of fuel will energize your mind that will help you develop healthy study habits and memorization.

At Florida National University (FNU), we care about your mind and your health. We do what we can to make sure that your academic career is a successful and healthy one! To learn more about our regionally accredited university, visit our webpage and contact an advisor to schedule an appointment today.