How to be a healthy writer

The blogosphere is full of tips about how to write better, and full of tips about how to be healthier. But what about being a healthy writer? How can wise food choices help you write better?

I’m no doctor, but here’s what I’ve observed, just through personal experiences, and some amateur nutritional knowledge of my own.

Drink more water. Yes, as writers we live off of caffeine. I mean, how else can you survive NaNoWriMo without guzzling coffee or twelve million energy drinks? But caffeine is actually dehydrating. Just as the body functions better when fully hydrated, so does the brain – which is of course an essential tool for writers. Don’t like plain water? Improve the taste with drink additives (watch out for sugar and chemicals in some brands, though). Or keep it simple by adding a slice of lime or some sprigs of mint to a glass of water.

Take a multivitamin. But not just any multivitamin – you probably won’t get anything from a cheap brand of synthetic vitamin from your local big box store. Invest in your future – your future as a healthy person and a prolific writer – by buying a vitamin made from whole plants, and preferably organic. Even if your diet is full of all the right foods and none of the bad ones, you’re still probably not getting every mineral and piece of nutrition that your body needs to function at top performance. Feed your body the right foods with a plant-based natural multivitamin, and you’ll have long-term energy to keep you writing longer.

Exercise. I know – you’re too busy writing (and working, and just doing regular life) to exercise. But even a few minutes of extra movement every day can add up. Take breaks and move your body. Even mild exercise like going for a walk helps your blood flow better, your joints work better, gives your eyes a break from the computer screen, and can even help your brain work through that next scene that you’re totally stuck on.

Eat regular meals and snacks. Again, something that’s hard for anyone – writer or otherwise – to do. Crazy schedules beget crazy eating schedules. But if at all possible, figure out how to work in several small meals and snacks throughout the day rather than one or two huge meals and binge snacking. Eating smaller amounts frequently helps keep your blood sugar and metabolism steady, which results in less weight gain and better overall health.

Make the time. None of these things have to take much extra time – but they do take extra thought and discipline, at least at first. Make yourself drink some ice water during your after-dinner writing session instead of one more caffeinated drink. Set your vitamins out on the table the night before so you’ll take them with breakfast the next day. Get up from your desk every hour on the hour and take a six-minute walk. Sit down to write with a snack of raw veggies.

Put a sticky note on your desk or set a reminder on your phone – whatever it takes to make these changes into new habits. Your body and your writing will thank you for it.