Why Healthy Eating Is Essential for Nursing Students

Cindy Wilson Thumbby Cindy Wilson
BS, Dietetics and Nutrition

Nursing is one of the few professions that allows you to learn as you work in different settings, including public health facilities, hospitals, schools, and physician offices. This, combined with the challenging coursework, last-minute cramming, and late-night study sessions, exposes you to stressors. This results in poor diet choices, insufficient sleep, and difficulties creating exercise routines. However, it is critical for nurses (including nursing students) to eat healthy to maintain good health. Read on for six reasons why eating healthy is paramount for nursing students. 

why healthy eating is essential for nursing students

1. Improve cognitive skills

One of the most significant reasons you should consider eating healthy once you enroll in an accelerated BSN program online is to enhance your mental capacity. Consuming a proper balance of complex carbohydrates, fiber, proteins, and fat, improves your perception and reasoning skills, resulting in improved cognitive skills.

Be sure to also consume a diet with plenty of minerals and vitamins. Lack of adequate minerals and vitamins lowers the secretion of dopamine, a neurotransmitter critical for the learning process. Vitamin B and E, iodine, iron, zinc, and thiamine deficiencies can also inhibit mental concentration and cognitive ability.

2. Manage weight

The increased academic workload, inadequate or irregular sleep, and poor food choices, often result in high-stress levels. This causes the body to store extra fat, which results in weight gain. 

Weight gain is a leading mental and physical health concern. Being obese or overweight increases incidences of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, so you should consider eating healthy to manage your weight. The following are dietary tips to maintain a healthy weight:

  • Stay within your daily calorie-intake needs
  • Consume protein foods, including lean meat, soy products, seafood, eggs, poultry, seeds, nuts, and legumes like peas and beans.
  • Eat whole grains, fruits, milk products, low-fat or fat-free milk, and vegetables
  • Reduce saturated fats, added sugars, cholesterol, trans fats, and sodium consumption.

3. Develop healthy eating habits early on

Like other students pursuing higher education, nursing students, especially those working and learning, are exposed to many challenges, such as late study sessions and increased workload. With more workload, nursing students have to increase productivity, which results in neglecting healthy eating.  

However, while indulging in a sweet treat may seem convenient, it is best to fix yourself a nutritional snack to keep you active and healthy. By maintaining a healthy diet and high levels of physical fitness, you will perform better as a nursing student and be more productive. It also helps nurture a nutrient-rich diet and active lifestyle throughout your nursing career. 

4. Improve mood

According to recent research, there is a link between mood and nutrition. Consuming high-glycemic-load diets results in increased depression symptoms and fatigue, which makes socializing and establishing healthy relationships with patients difficult. 

Be sure to avoid high dietary glycemic loads like simple sugars and refined carbs to improve your mood. These include crackers, white bread, baked foods, pastries, and sugary beverages. Instead, eat healthy diets containing whole grains, lean proteins, leafy greens, and fruits to reduce glycemic index.

5. Practice what you teach your patients

Everyone must focus on nurturing a healthy lifestyle; however, nurses uniquely influence their patients daily. According to this article “Healthcare professionals, such as nurses, care for their own health, it is reasonable to think that this will help them to better care for patients.”

Most patients will likely follow instructions concerning a healthy lifestyle when advocated by a nurse. For this reason, you should strive to demonstrate your teachings in your everyday life. Be sure to practice what you will likely teach to impact your patients’ lives profoundly.

6. Be creative with demanding shifts

You can expect early morning, late nights, long hours and constantly being on your feet as a nursing student and during your career. This makes a career in nursing one of the most demanding fields, causing you to neglect important things like exercise and diet. Be creative in incorporating exercise and healthy foods into your daily routine. For instance, you could prepare non-perishable meal options and carry them wherever you are. This ensures you reach for a healthy option wherever your stomach is empty instead of settling for less-nutritional snacks.


Maintaining healthy eating habits helps you improve your cognitive skills, manage weight, improve mood, practice what you teach and develop a healthy lifestyle early on. This improves your overall health and well-being as a nursing student or nurse, enabling you to provide the best patient care.

About Author

Cindy Wilson Thumb
BS, Nutrition & Food Science | Connect with on LinkedIn
Cindy Wilson

Hello, I am Cindy, and this a website where I inspect everything related to nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. I have a BS in Dietetics and Nutrition (Kansas State University) and have completed a dozen specialty courses related to nutrition, biochemistry, and food science. I am open to learning more, but foremost I would like to share all my knowledge with you.

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