Expert Comment: Healthy eating for studentsMonday 24 September 2012
As a new academic year gets underway for hundreds of thousands of UK students, Dr Farzad Amirabdollahian, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition at Hope gives some tips on health eating for students.
Starting university is a milestone in an individual's life. For many students, this is the start of an era bringing great freedom, new experiences, new friendships, new responsibilities and overall an opportunity to develop their own identity. Together with these, comes an opportunity to develop important skills such as cooking and budgeting and overall gaining more control over food choices. Needless to say, these food choices can have a major impact on the academic performance and success. Here are some tips about healthy eating at university:
Healthy eating starts with a balanced diet. The key to this balanced diet is the quantity and variety of food that we consume. When it comes to quantity, it is sensible to think about the right amount, considering how active you are. A healthy diet includes variety of foods including bread, rice, potato, pasta and other starchy foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables, some milk and dairy products, some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein, together with small amount of foods and drinks high in fats and sugar.
Healthy eating has nothing to do with 'dieting'. It is actually quite the opposite; healthy eating is more of lifestyle. Design a meal plan for yourself and reflect on how you are following it. Try eating often but small portion sizes. Make sure that you include some fruit and vegetables with each meal. Snacks can be part of our healthy eating. Fruits are usually good options and are often cheaper than unhealthy options. They are good source of vitamins with low calories.
Students often have a limited budget and food budgeting can be very helpful. You can easily monitor what are the biggest expenses and replace them with cheap but healthy options. Frozen vegetables are often as nutritious as fresh ones. Fruit and vegetables that are in season are often healthy but less expensive options.
Eat when you begin to feel hungry and drink when you feel thirsty. There are often periods when students are understandably stressed and/or emotional. This is common especially around the assessment time. Avoid emotional eating. Planning in advance could be the key to success. For many people, cooking can be relaxing. You just need to be adventurous and up for fun!