If you’re beginning law school, you’re likely thinking a lot about what you say and do in class, how to handle all the reading, your exams, your grades, and the price of text books (yikes!). The furthest thing from your mind is probably how to stay healthy. Eating well in law school is crucial, though. Take it from someone who didn’t!
I’m not saying I was a complete disaster all the time, but I definitely could have made healthier choices. I realized this later when I studied for the bar and took a completely different approach to food and staying healthy. It was like night and day. I felt like a different person when I was eating better!
I know, it’s difficult to eat well in law school when each minute feels like valuable study time. It’s easy to reach for frozen food, packaged snacks and things that you can prepare and eat quickly. Plus, for a lot of law students, law school can be a tough adjustment period, and comfort food can really help, well, comfort you, especially if you’re stressed out or far away from family and friends. If this sounds like you, here are some reasons you should be extra careful with your eating habits once you start law school.
Healthy eating can actually make you a better student.
Maybe that sounds crazy, but it’s true, at least in part. The actual exams will be up to you, though. However, what you eat can be a factor in how anxious you are, how well you can focus, and whether you can get a good night’s sleep. Don’t believe me? Check out this advice we give to our bar students about the importance of healthy eating while studying for the bar.
Eating better makes you feel better.
Have you ever noticed that eating lots of fruits and veggies and drinking enough of water makes you feel more energetic and alive (even if you’re spending all day in the library)? Everyone knows the human body works better when you give it healthy fuel. Also, you will be sitting for very long periods of time reading, and probably find it more difficult to have an active lifestyle in law school, which makes it even more important that you’re eating a healthy diet. Your brain will work better, you’ll sleep better, be more relaxed and have more stamina.
Eating well can stave off getting sick.
There is nothing that wastes more time in law school than getting sick. Yuck! Not only do you have to miss class if you get seriously under the weather, but the time and effort it takes to come back from missing class can be really overwhelming. I’m not saying you should go to class sick and tire yourself out while infecting everyone else (don’t do this!), but in law school, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. The best case scenario is to never get sick in the first place. Know what helps you not get sick? Eating tons of immune-boosting, vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables and staying hydrated! Eat well now to avoid getting sick and wasting time later.
Balanced eating habits will help you avoid lethargy and exhaustion.
Over-eating, as we’ve all probably experienced, can put you right into a food coma. If you think you can read the world’s most boring law text book after scarfing a huge pot of pasta, think again. I’m not saying I’ve tried this (on purpose), but it may have inadvertently happened once or twice! The best way to not get your reading done is to fall asleep in the middle of it!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you get all amped up about healthy eating and decide to do a detox right now and only eat an abnormally low calorie vegetable-only diet for the next week (probably not the best idea), just know that people who do this inevitably get cranky and exhausted.
This is also not the optimal situation for law school (believe me, the workload itself will probably make you cranky and exhausted enough on its own). Keep your diet balanced so you’re not eating too much or too little. If you’ve never heard of hara hachi bun me or “the bun me method” check it out. In a nutshell, just eat until you’re 80% full. If you get hungry again later, have more!
Healthy eating means not having so many extra calories to burn.
No, I’m not saying you need to lose weight. But, eating unhealthy snacks and foods that essentially break down to sugar once they’re in your body means you will have a much better chance of just layering on extra pounds than if you consume foods with the same caloric content, but which don’t turn instantly into sugar. So, if you want to eat healthier, limit white flour foods like white bread and pasta (try the whole grain wheat versions instead). Avoid products that conceal a sneaky amount of sugar, like packaged sauces, frozen meals, and instant foods. Obviously lots of cookies, soda and caffeine isn’t the best for anyone either.
Instead, try snacks that look closer to their naturally-occurring state—for example nuts, dried and fresh fruits, cut up vegetables, etc. You can still find great breads, dips, and sauces too (I’m not saying your lunch bag needs to look like a produce drawer), just see if you can limit the foods with a long list of ingredients no one can pronounce since these will always be less healthy for you. By eating better, you will stay full longer, have more energy, and not have to worry about maintaining a healthy weight—whatever that happens to be for you.
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Other helpful pre-1L posts:
- Pre-1L Summer Checklist
- Want to Get Good Law School Grades – Become a Self-Starter
- All The Supplies You Need to Start Law School Right
- How to Think Like a Successful Law Student
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