We treat our bodies pretty poorly in college. We stay up late, we put our livers to the test (daily), and we eat a whole lot of unhealthy treats. And we feel the effects on Monday morning when we’re trudging to class in pants that barely fit and a foggy, unhappy brain.
What if I told you making one small change could give your body a boost? No, I’m not going to tell you to stop drinking beer – that would be unrealistic – but I am gonna tell you to start indulging in phytochemicals.
I know – when I first saw that word I had to Google it too. Allow me to break it down:
A recent study found that eating food containing phytochemicals at the beginning of a meal prevents oxidative stress, which can cause obesity, heart disease, joint disease, diabetes, and more.
So basically, You + Phytochemicals = Thin, Disease-Free You!
Understandably, I’m a HUGE fan. And I’m ready to hit up the phytochemical aisle at my campus grocery store.
So where can you find phytochemicals? Think healthy, plant-based foods like leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. You don’t need acai berry for this; stick with what you know! In fact, they say that wonder pills and even juices (apple juice, cranberry juice, etc.) aren’t as beneficial for you as fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables. The study specifically mentioned the great phytochemicals in garlic, tomatoes, soy, carrots, red wine, whole grains… Wait, red wine? You know we love any excuse to down a box of red…
In order to get the best health benefits from our food, we are encouraged to “…go back to the whole sources of food, the nonprocessed foods if we can help it.” So even swapping some raw almonds for your typical granola bar on the way to class, or drinking tea instead of coffee will help add more phytochemicals to your diet.
Order matters, as well. Eating the healthy foods BEFORE the unhealthy foods is better. This is news to me, as I usually eat vegetables or fruit after the unhealthy stuff. Usually because eating that plate of cheese fries makes me feel fat, so I follow it up with a nice, hearty celery stick. But the key is to eat the celery before the cheese fries so I will fill up on more-nutrient dense/lower calorie foods first and take in fewer calories later.
Basically, to help you stay thin and disease-free:
* The more colorful your plate is, the better. (Natural colors from fruits & vegetables, not Skittles.)
* Swap any processed foods (even relatively healthy granola bars) for unprocessed fruits, vegetables, etc. whenever possible.
* Eat the healthy stuff before the unhealthy stuff. You’ll end up eating less calories and fat.
We’re in college so we all know we won’t be giving up on the cheese fries and pizza anytime soon, but if we just balance it out with more nutritious options when we can, we’ll feel it in our bodies. And in our jeans. When we sit down. And there’s no muffin top.