People often ask me about my diet in medical school and how I manage to cook and prepare my own meals. I have a very simple diet that can mostly be explained with this image:
I am not technically a ‘vegetarian’. I will eat the occasional burger or chicken, but I don’t incorporate meat into my everyday diet. I prefer to use beans and legumes as a meat substitute. I made the decision to cut meat out of my everyday diet when I started medical school. I don’t have any particular reasons for doing so – just wanted a change and to eat more naturally. As far as making time to eat healthy – I love to meal prep, as I’ve stated many times before. It’s all about making time for your health and ensuring you have healthy meals everyday. I know that if I do not make time to meal prep (whether it be the weekend before or the night before), I will be stuck with buying fast food or spending money on foods that aren’t as healthy for me.
One of my favorite things to eat are kale salads. Kale is a GREAT salad base because it’s filling and has TONS of health benefits. In a typical kale salad, I love to put diced cucumbers, tomatoes, shredded carrots, dried cranberries, feta or blue cheese crumbles, sometimes a hard-boiled egg, and topped with a fruit vinaigrette dressing. If I want to add a little bit of flavor to the salad, I add a little bit of buffalo ranch dressing. Salads are a healthy, versatile meal that you can customize any way you’d like. Besides tasting amazing, I love kale for all the health benefits it has. Click here to read more about the health benefits! I like to also incorporate kale into vegetable soups and smoothies, since it’s so versatile.
Prepping beans is the most ‘complicated’ part of my diet. I say ‘complicated’ because it takes the longest. Beans are an inexpensive and delicious addition to any diet, which is probably why I love them so much! I buy them dry, soak them overnight, and boil them the next day because I do not have the luxury of a crockpot. I love making beans and rice, and bean soups with potatoes and other vegetables. There are so many great recipes on Pinterest with different kinds of beans — check out my previous post about Beans and Their Benefits for further discussion and recipe ideas. Another protein source that I love are eggs! They are versatile and can be incorporated into lots of different recipes – whether it be on salads, with beans and rice, or eaten for breakfast on toast!
I usually stock up on fresh fruits when the grocery stores have them. Some of my favorites to snack on are bananas, apples, cantaloupe, pineapple, and grapes. It’s so easy to cut them up and store them in the fridge for easy access when I’m craving a quick snack. Not to mention, the natural sugars found in fruits gives me a nice energy boost in the middle of class, so I don’t have to reach for that extra cup of coffee. I also have a mango tree, starfruit tree, and passionfruit tree in my backyard, so it’s awesome to be able to collect fruits from my own backyard. I also like to make fruit smoothies for breakfast in the mornings when I am short on time.
95% of the time, you will find me drinking water from my Starbucks tumbler. I try to drink 4-5 of these cups a day because in one serving, I get 24oz of water. Staying hydrated is ESSENTIAL for overall health! In the mornings I usually have a cup of coffee, and after lunch if I am feeling sluggish I will have another one. That’s about it as far as my caffeine intake – occasionally I’ll have a Coca Cola or some kind of soda when I’m feeling rebellious – but I try to limit myself on my sugary drink intake.
How do you maintain a healthy diet in medical school? Leave a comment below!