healthy eating

Food for the Brain

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Author: Laura Freeman

Spring is a stressful time for many of us, whether it’s because we’re finalizing taxes, planning a big trip for the summer, or applying for jobs or internships. Overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done, and everything we want to do, we tend to overlook one of our basic needs – healthy eating. Too often, I find myself stopping by the Jack in the Box across the street for a quick meal and an Oreo milkshake, or ordering Italian from Postmates on the days I feel like spending a bit more. Besides contributing to the United States’ obesity epidemic, unhealthy eating can intensify the effects of a brain injury (Wolpert).

Studies also show that diets high in saturated fats and trans fats can hinder cognition. In particular, the consumption junk food and fast food has shown adverse effects on learning and memory (Wolpert). Fortunately, just as there are bad foods for the brain, there are also good foods! Folic acid, found in various foods such as spinach and oranges, is critical for brain function. Likewise, omega-3 fatty acids have been used to treat Alzheimers, as well as other memory deficits (Wolpert). Other healthy foods include whole grains, beans, seeds, and tea (Sorgen).

This got me thinking about how healthy eating may help me feel less stressed and more energetic. It isn’t that I enjoy eating fast food or ordering from Postmates every night – it’s just more convenient and cheaper (or so I thought). What could I make that is quick and healthy?

And then, it hit me: grain bowls! Grain bowls, like Mason jar salads and avocado toast have been all the rage lately, but they usually use expensive “superfoods”, like chia seeds, quinoa, and out-of-season avocados. Even though I can’t afford to use those ingredients regularly, I could still make grain bowls with cheaper alternatives!

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With those healthy brain foods in mind, I make a quick stop at Trader Joe’s and discover, to my delight, that the ingredients for five portions amounted to only $11.93 – cheaper than my average Postmates order! I begin peeling sweet potatoes, grinding spices, sautéing chickpeas, roasting tofu, boiling farro, and cubing feta cheese. Soon enough, it all comes together as a stunning, aromatic cornucopia of healthy foods. In just one hour of prepping and cooking, I managed to make enough food for the whole week’s lunches. In my mind, it’s a win-win-win situation; I pay less for healthier food that makes me feel energized and focused on the busy season to come.

 

Sources:

Sorgen, C. (2006). Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain. Retrieved April 10, 2018

Wolpert, S. (2008, July 09). Scientists learn how what you eat affects your brain - and those of your kids. Retrieved April 10, 2018