Before entering dental school, I worked as a registered dietitian. My life centered around health and wellness. I woke up at 5:15 a.m. every weekday to go to the gym. I meal-prepped every weekend. I spent a lot of my free time researching new health products, while also coming up with new ways to make traditional comfort foods healthier. My life focused on being healthy and learning new ways to help my patients eat better.
After starting dental school, rather than focusing on health and wellness, I often found myself stressed with school work and drifting further away from the healthy habits I had while working in nutrition. I began echoing the same excuses I heard my own patients telling me, and I knew I needed a change. With some self-reflection and improved time management skills, I was able to address my faults and incorporate more healthy habits back into my life as a dental student. Here are the four main excuses I heard from my patients when defending why they weren’t reaching their nutrition goals. I am guilty of using the same lines when I was slipping away from my healthy lifestyle. Here’s how I addressed them.
- I don’t have time to eat/cook healthy. As a dental student, you may feel that you barely have time to brush your teeth in the morning, let alone cook healthy meals for yourself. But in reality, spending one to two hours planning your meals for the week can save you much more time in the long run. By preparing your own food, you eliminate the time it takes for you to drive to a restaurant, order and wait for your food. Set aside some time during the week to prepare these meals and prepackage them in different containers. My go-to meal prep for lunch when I feel pressed for time is making large mixed salads with shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken (with dressing on the side in a smaller container so it doesn’t get soggy). You don’t even have to cook in this case. Just chop up some veggies and tear up some chicken for a protein-packed salad.
Read the rest of this article in the March 2019 issue of Contour.
~Benjamin Truong, RD, Pennsylvania ’19, 2nd Lieutenant, U.S. Air Force Registered Dietitian
About Benjamin Truong
Benjamin Truong, RD, 2nd Lieutenant, U.S. Air Force Registered Dietitian, is a fourth-year student at The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.