Healthy habits for the start of university 1 to 5

By Jenna Hope, Nutritionist

Starting university can seem daunting; there’s new friend’s to make, a new environment to settle into, a budget to stick to and getting to grips with the course can be a challenge. Consequently, it may seem all too tempting to take advantage of the £1.50 burger and chips offers that get posted through your door on a daily basis. These are of course part of the university experience and that’s totally ok. Although come Christmas you want to make sure you can still fit into your clothes and feel good about yourself.

As a student, drinking is probably part of your weekly antics. So whilst I’m not going to be the boring nutritionist, I am here to provide you with tips on how to eat well around your nights out, lecture schedules and social arrangements. It doesn’t have to be expensive, time consuming or boring! I’ve put together some of my top tips to help you focus on your health as you settle in to your new lifestyle.

  1. Utilise the frozen section

Typically we think of frozen food as fast ready meals, chicken nuggets and pizzas and we tend to avoid the frozen fish, meat, fruits and vegetables. At university however, these can really be your saviours. Frozen produce is cheaper than the fresh varieties, it can be stored longer meaning no waste and it saves you on prep time, great!

So what exactly can you do with frozen fruits and vegetables? Smoothies are a great place to start. If you’re rolling out of bed after a night at Ocean, you can throw a few frozen berries into a blender with some frozen spinach, milk a handful of oats and a squeeze of honey, and you’re good to go. Not only will this nurse your hangover but in the long run it’s also cheaper than buying your coffee en-route to lectures.

Hint: It might be worth all your housemates joining together and investing in a blender.

  1. Load up on the beans and legumes

Just hear me out! Beans (kidney beans, butter beans, haricot beans etc.), lentils and chickpeas are great sources of protein. They’re high in fibre meaning not only will they support your gut health, they’ll also keep you fuller for longer and they’re super cheap. Throw a can of these into a pot with some tomato sauce, paprika, chilli, salt and a range of frozen vegetables and you’ve got yourself a super quick, delicious and healthy dinner.

  1. Drink your water

Have you ever eaten and not felt satisfied? Mistaking thirst for hunger is a common mistake which can lead to an over consumption of calories and over time, an increase in weight gain. Ensure you stay hydrated by carrying a bottle of water and aiming for around two litres a day. If you’re exercising regularly, you may also want to increase this quantity slightly further.

Hint: Drinking alcohol contributes to dehydration so make sure you stay hydrated between drinks to help reduce the hangover the next day.

  1. Buy in bulk

Bulk buying works out so much cheaper in the long term. If you feel that you won’t get through a large bag of chickpeas or brown rice then try sharing with a flat mate. Often when you have a buddy to eat well with you’re likely to stay motivated, try different things and enjoy it more. Whilst buying dry stores in bulk can be beneficial, steer clear of the BOGOF on junk food as these deals can lead you to over eat.

  1. Swap the white for the wholegrain variety

White carbohydrates are typically released much quicker into the bloodstream so this means you’ll feel hungrier again quicker. This can potentially cause you to over eat and crave higher sugar foods. Swapping white rice for brown, white bread and pasta for the wholegrain versions will keep you fuller for longer, increase your overall fibre intake which helps your gut health, and support keeping those sugar cravings at bay.

Hint: If this seems too daunting at first, try the half-and-half trick where you mix white rice with brown to start with before switching the varieties completely.

Hopefully these 5 tips will get you started on the healthy track at NTU. Don’t forget to read part two for more suggestions and my special cookie recipe!

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