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“Best Food Forward”

Getting healthy isn’t always an easy task.

We may have motivated ourselves to take a break from the library and get our bodies moving but getting fit and reaching our long-term goals involves more than just physical exercise. The key to a truly healthy lifestyle (and a rocking summer bod) can be found in the most deliciously entertaining room of the house: the kitchen!

March is nutrition month in Canada, and according to Richelle Tabelon, BSc and Registered Dietitian at the University of Calgary Wellness Centre, it’s perfect time to put our "best food forward" and take the first steps to change our eating habits, for the better.

With 12 years of experience under her belt, including two years at the U of C, Tabelon is familiar with the common challenges students face when trying to eat healthy on a budget. Tabelon notes that time, money, stress and confusing media messages play a major role in determining how students choose to nourish their bodies. In a time crunch, fast food might feel like an easier option than a home cooked meal. The stress of exams might drive us to eat away our emotions without realization. Finally, fad diets presented to us in the media provide quick fix solutions that fail to contribute to our long-term goals.

Following The Dietitians of Canada nutrition campaign for March, Tabelon encourages students to simplify the task of eating healthy by keeping four little words in mind: Plan, Shop, Cook, and Enjoy!

Plan

Eating well-balanced meals isn’t possible without a little bit of planning and organization. Help yourself out by creating a weekly meal plan, making yourself a grocery list before you head to the store, and save your pennies by checking for coupons in flyers, online or in-store.

“Taking even a few minutes every weekend to plan out your suppers for the week can save you a lot of time and money,” says Tabelon. “Make a grocery list and shop once for the week. The end result is healthy home-cooked meals that you can be proud of and enjoy!”

If you live in residence and don’t have the pleasure of cooking for yourself, Tabelon suggests checking online menus to find Nutrition Facts in an effort to make better food choices while using campus dining services.

Shop

“Make a grocery list and stick to it! It helps to eat before you shop. Otherwise, you may be more likely to buy food you don’t need,” says Tabelon.

Take the time to think about what you’re going to eat over the following week and compile a list. While you’re at the grocery store, compare products and buy in bulk when possible. Read the nutrition labels of items you buy in order to find foods that will fuel and nourish your body. Finally, look for nutritious convenience foods (e.g. pre-cut veggies, frozen fruit, etc.) to save yourself time in the kitchen.

Cook

“Trying a new food or recipe each week will help to get you excited about cooking and add variety to your diet,” says Tabelon.

Try to cook homemade meals whenever you can. To save time and energy, cook bigger batches and freeze individual servings for a quick meal. Another tool for time saving is the slow-cooker; if you have one, use it to simplify your meals. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try new healthy recipes.

Even though some students have a knack for cooking and love to spend time in the kitchen, cooking isn’t for everyone and for some it might be a brand new task since moving away from home. For those less adept to the culinary arts, Tabelon suggests taking advantage of students cooking courses offered through various university and community programs to brush up on your skills and learn the basics for at home meal preparation.

Enjoy

Even though school can be hectic and crazy at most times, try to take the time to enjoy your meals. Relax, taste your food and appreciate the nourishment its providing your body.

“Take time to slow down your eating,” says Tabelon. “This is not only better for digestion but we should all really taste and enjoy our food!”

And if you’re tired of eating the same old thing day in and day out, try experimenting with new foods and recipes to keep the spark alive! Add fruit to your salad or peanut butter to a smoothie to mix things up. Who knows, you might be delightfully surprised by what you come up with!

Author: Betty Glauder is a student. She grew up in Aurora, Colorado. She studies at University of Colorado and works at research paper help service as writer. She is a Greenpeace volunteer. Also she is an amateur hip-hop dancer.

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