DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been having issues with my motivation lately. I have low energy, and simple tasks take me way longer than they should. I get all my work done, but that typically is the full extent of what I do in a day. Due to this lack of energy, I have not been cooking or going to the grocery store as much as I should. This results in not eating enough food in a day, snacking too much or eating unhealthy options that I can have delivered to my apartment. I do not feel satisfied with the unhealthy food I eat, but ordering salads and restaurant food is extremely expensive. This leads to a cycle of not having enough energy to cook, but also not getting enough energy from the low-nutrient food I am eating. Do you have any healthy, affordable snack or meal recommendations that require low effort to prepare? — Food Energy
DEAR FOOD ENERGY: It’s great that you recognize that your eating habits could be affecting your mood and motivation. Nutrition is critical to a healthy life. Yes, there are affordable, nutritious foods you can eat. Instead of ordering a salad, go get a few groceries or even have groceries delivered. All of the salad ingredients that cost so much from a restaurant take seconds to mix together yourself if you buy the individual ingredients at the grocery store. According to Healthline.com, some affordable options are broccoli, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, green cabbage, canned fish, chicken breast, bananas, frozen fruit and more. It may take a minute to shift your food choices. Knowing you can do it quickly and affordably should help. For a longer list of healthy food and snack options. go to healthline.com/nutrition/29-cheap-healthy-foods.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m the first in my family to go to college, and there’s a lot of pressure on me. I feel like I can’t relate to my family anymore. How can I cope with this and excel in my graduate program? — Need Support
DEAR NEED SUPPORT: Stop looking to your family for the emotional support you need. Since you are a pioneer in higher education in your family, they don’t have the tools to help you manage your academic workload and the pressure that comes with it. Establish relationships with peers and an academic counselor to help you with that. Stop expecting your family to be what they are not. Relate to them as the loving people they are. Don’t get mad at them or reject them because your life is changing. By finding a support system beyond your family, you will be able to appreciate them for who they are and not mistakenly expect more from them than they can offer. Be sure not to look down on them or speak to them disparagingly as your interests and experiences expand. Feel free to share stories with them of your life, but be mindful not to brag. Stay humble.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.