How to maintain a healthy diet while gaming

A few simple changes to your behavior can go a long way to a healthier lifestyle.

Photo via Marco Verch/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

It’s hard to think about healthy eating while playing video games for several hours. A long friendly game or a ranked match going to overtime can make players forget about eating regular and healthy meals. When that happens, it’s probably when players just shove chips in their mouth and wash them down with soda.

But having a healthy diet is important for every gamer. Professional gaming organizations are acknowledging the role of balanced meals in the performance of professional esports players — Philadelphia Fusion team, for instance, has even hired a professional chef for its players.

Eating healthy can be simpler for the average gamer than hiring a personal chef, of course. Here are some steps that will help you have balanced meals when you play casually or compete in matches.

Keep to regular meal times

The best way to ensure you have a healthy eating pattern while playing is to plan your meal times beforehand. It doesn’t matter when you’re playing, as long as you ensure you have a balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a variety of foods from the five food groups that will make you feel sated and ready to play. That way you can also ensure you don’t mindlessly eat unhealthy snack food while you’re playing .

When you feel hungry, though, it’s time to take a break and it’s a good idea to have some pre-prepared healthy snacks available.

Eat away from the screen

If you try eating while you play, odds are your food choices will be unhealthy processed or packaged foods. No one has enough hands to hold their controller, a fork, and a knife all at once.

Forget about the game when you feel hungry. Go eat in a different room so that you can pay attention to what and how much you’re eating. If you eat with the company of family or friends, it’s even better. Doing so will let your brain and body understand that there are different times and places to play and eat, and doing things separately will help you do both better. Having a separate time and location for meals also helps ensure that you’re up and moving about and away from the screen for periods of time throughout the day. Breaking up long periods of sitting, as often as possible, can make a big difference to your overall health and wellbeing.

Eat more fresh food and less processed food

This is a piece of advice anyone should follow in order to have a healthy diet. But gamers are tempted to consume more processed food because it’s easier to eat while playing. Processed food and snacks tend to be unhealthier, however.

Eating that pack of unhealthy snacks won’t make you feel full for long, and you will end up overeating junk food. If you avoid processed food, it will also help you with the previous two recommended steps.

Natural food doesn’t necessarily mean organic. If it’s food that you have to plan, prep and cook, not just defrost in a microwave, then it’s probably better for you than your processed, pre-prepared alternatives. It’ll probably  taste better as well.

Plan your meals beforehand

If you’re a regular gamer, you are probably really good at planning your play time. If you can do that, then planning your eating and mealtimes shouldn’t be too hard. Think of what you would like to cook and eat as well as when you want to play and plan your meals according. If you decide what you’ll eat a few days in advance, find some recipes, and put together a list of ingredients—it can help you while shopping.

Next time you think about opening that pack of processed and possibly high-sugar and high-fat snacks while playing your favourite game, remember to instead just take a break, head to your kitchen, and make a healthy victory meal.