February 10, 2018
How to maintain a Healthy Diet while writing a PhD
A lot of you guys have been asking me about my energy levels during the PhD thesis writing up stage. I have always been very curious with diets and experimented with mine frequently – from going vegan for 10 days to the occasional low sugar midweek diet that I talk about on my Instagram, I love introducing new foods to my diet in aim of supporting my mental stimulation and energy levels. Writing a PhD thesis is not an easy business and I am not saying this to get pats on the back, but rather to justify the reasons as to why PhD students would require a better nutrient intake during this stage to enhance their mental strength and abilities.
If you read my PhD Update post series then you must know what a great journey it has been so far with its ups and downs and emotional breakdowns. As one of my friends says ‘show me a PhD student that never had a breakdown during their research and I will show you a liar’. It is not a secret that PhD students suffer from mental health issues as they go through very stressful periods of life and this alone is a reason to take care of their diet and wellness.
The good thing about studying Chemistry is that it helped me gain an in-depth understanding of the processes our body undergoes while experiencing stress and so I collated a few tips to lead a healthy lifestyle that protected me from vitamin deficiencies, headaches, tiredness and lack of focus during my studies. Food supplements, chia seed breakfasts and turmeric lattes came quite handy these past 4 years of my studies…
If you are studying for a PhD or are a student looking for ways to enhance your immune system, sharpen your memory and focus, to increase your academic performance then here are my golden rules.
5 GOLDEN RULES TO INCREASE YOUR ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
1. Understand how your body works
Not all bodies work the same. Some people eat first thing in the morning, others prefer to have a brunch and some go straight to lunch. Whatever works for you! The usual ‘good breakfast option‘ always include some sort of protein like eggs however my body finds it easier to break down porridge, and I also love the variations you can have with porridge dishes. So, forget the rules and do whatever is best for your body.
2. No matter what, don’t forget to drink water!
Ask yourself ‘How many glasses of water did you have today?’. If you cannot remember then chances are you are dehydrated. Maintaining a well hydrated body not only will make you look rested and help you have high energy levels but it will also sharpen your thinking and facilitate your digestion system. Get one of these bottles that measure the daily levels of water intake and get hydrated. Trust me when I say this, it is one of the BEST things you can do for yourself!
3. Eat well.
The good stuff will help you make that extra step that is so much needed when studying, writing exams or writing a thesis! Take care of yourself as you would do with your sister/brother/child/dog. Would you ever serve cheap noodles to your sister if she was studying for her exams? I guess not, so why do it to yourself? Get planning, buy a book of healthy recipes, follow some food bloggers passionate about good eating habits, get ideas and get in the kitchen. Even at the worst of shifts in the laboratory I always had a packet of raisins, a fruit salad and some homemade granola bars to snack on. Oh, the happiness when you open the office cupboard at 10 pm at night and there is food to eat.
4. Office yoga
Now, this might sound a bit excessive because most of the time there is not time to go to the gym or do anything else aside from studying and writing, however what I found extremely difficult during my PhD writing up stage was the sitting part! There is nothing worse that being forced to sit at your desk for 12 solid hours. My lower back was in pain, my knees were hurting like crazy and all I wanted to do was go outside for a walk! One day, out of desperation and with very limited time in my hands, I decided to get on the yoga mat for 20′. I stretched and stretched and felt muscles that I didn’t even know I had in my body. Nothing extreme, nothing too much, just a good old stretching that helped my muscles relax and increased the blood circulation all over my body. It was cathartic and therapeutic at the same time. So if you spare some minutes every day to stretch and get this blood going it will help you on the long run, even if at first it might seem as a waste of your time.
5. Organic food supplements
Keep yourself well supplied with all the essential nutrients, minerals and bacteria that are needed for your well-being with some good organic food supplements. I use the Garden of Life food supplements. They are made out of organic, non-GMO food ingredients to support brain health and wellness of all ages. I first heard of the brand when searching for some raw organic protein for my sister -she is a salsa choreographer and performer who requires a lot of protein for muscle recovery to help her with the daily long hours of dancing and teaching. Even though I wasn’t looking for something for myself, I ended up looking at the ‘Lifestyle‘ section on the website that has some really good information about superfoods, the benefits of exercise and, the one that hit the nail for me, natural ways to cope with anxiety.
Their products range from proteins to probiotics, vitamins and more. I got myself Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C that come in the form of sprays. Both have very pleasant flavours, raspberry and orange, respectively and are excellent supplements! I also got the Once Women’s Daily that are capsules -rather of a big size I would say – that protect the female body from digestive and mental issues as they contain various strains of bacteria and vitamins essential for our everyday needs.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and if you have any other suggestions or tips on how to survive the PhD writing up stage please let me know in the comment section. Good luck with your studies and when times get tough remember this too shall pass 😉
*Created in collaboration with Garden of Life . All words, opinions, styling & creative direction are, as always, my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Natbee’s!