It’s officially British summertime! Most of us students are planning our summer holidays and rushing to the gym or jogging to try and get in shape, but often the thing we neglect is eating right. With exams, essays and assignments all piling up in third semester, healthy eating can seem like a chore, however, it is in fact easier and cheaper to lead a healthy lifestyle. Here’s the questions most people ask and my advice when it comes to eating well.
Where do I buy healthy food?
Most universities are close to supermarkets, and if you’re looking for cheap and tasty, healthy food, Aldi and Lidl are your best bets! Plenty of universities also have fruit and veg markets on campus so check them out as they’ll be tailored towards a student budget! When you’re shopping, always go with a list or you’ll find yourself spontaneously shopping (and ending up with a trolley full of random ingredients by the end)! Plan your breakfast, lunches and dinners and create your list from these. You don’t have to go to M&S or Whole Feeds to eat well!
What do I have for breakfast?
Healthy breakfast examples: Muesli, granola, porridge, Bran Flakes, natural yoghurt and fruit. All of these cost around £2 or less and are more than likely to last a week. To jazz up your breakfasts, stock your cupboard with spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon or something sweet like honey and dried berries (these will last for ages so you save money in the long run!) If you want to be super healthy, try an alternative milk such as almond milk or rice milk as these contain less sat fat and cholesterol!
Of course, you don’t want to eat like this every day, so it’s okay to branch out every once in a while, my weekend favourite is scrambled egg with smoked salmon (which is still healthy!) and I also eat quorn sausage sandwiches or chocolate cereals if I fancy a treat. Always have an emergency breakfast staple too, such as raisin and oat bars or banana and oat cookies which you can just eat on your way into uni as breakfast is vital to help you concentrate and kick starts your metabolism!
I get hungry mid-morning, what can I eat that’s good for me?
As someone who gets hungry every two hours or so, I always find it’s best to pack a fruit with me. A large pack of bananas costs around 69p from Aldi and lasts me a good 3 days! If I’m feeling more peckish, but if you have a sweet tooth, try Kallo’s Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes, they’re not the healthiest option but dark chocolate has health benefits and sometimes a 12pm sugar kick hits the spot, especially if you’ve been studying or in lectures for a while.
What can I have for lunch?
In my opinion, a lunch can be healthy as long as it’s balanced and includes veg. I am a pasta lover and although some say that too many carbs aren’t good for you, I believe as long as you have them in moderation, it’s absolutely fine! Buy staples such as pasta, rice, lentils and beans (such as borlotti beans as they’re quite cheap - you’ll get them for under £2 at most supermarkets) and like breakfast staples, last you a long time! As a pescetarian, I can’t offer that much advice on meat, but I’d recommend eating chicken for lunch as its lean meat and so, it’s healthier for you. If you stock up on fresh veg such as mushrooms, peppers, onions and such (all of which are under £1 in most supermarkets), you can create lots of dishes. Aldi also sell packs of fish such as mackerel and prawns for under £3 which can last a week and be added to dishes.
Check out sites such as BBC Good Food, Student Recipes or even Pinterest and Tumblr for quick and easy meals which don’t require too many ingredients. Many can be taken with you to Uni too, so you can have a nice lunch without having to fork out for Subways and meal deals (which are often not very healthy)!
What can I eat to conquer my late afternoon cravings?
From around 4-6pm, most of us get cravings as our blood sugar level decreases, so I recommend something naturally sweet such as pineapple or grapes, which cost around £1/£2 in Aldi and can last a few days. Nuts and seeds are good for you, but if you prefer a yummier option, try baking healthy options. Here are some links to healthy baking options which don’t require any more than 3 ingredients!
How do I make yummy and healthy dinners and puddings?
It’s easy to make healthy dinners that taste great and are within a student diet! Keep using your lunch staples, and just alternate so your meals aren’t repetitive! I aim to have oily fish at least once a week, and quorn is a great freezer staple, too! As long as your meals contain a balance of veg, carb or fibre and something containing protein (such as fish or quorn or meat), you’re not eating unhealthily! Soups are a great staple for the winter, and are easy to make, and salads are perfect for summertime. If you’re not a salad person, try making an exotic salad (they’re a lot more tasty) – mix rocket, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, red onion, olive oil and vinegar with herbs such as rosemary and sage! If you’re a chips person, try veggie chips: http://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/baked-veggie-chips/ and if you try keeping takeaways as a bi-monthly or monthly treat! Try boiling, grilling and stir-frying when you’re cooking too, as these are the healthiest options!
For puddings, try healthy options such as vanilla voghurt with fruit, baked fruit with honey and cinnamon, sorbets or fruit compotes. Cooking Light and BBC Good Food also have plenty of recipes to keep you busy, and most healthy desserts don’t require too many ingredients!
I’m bored of water, what can I drink through the day?
I’m always looking for drinks that are healthy and tasty, and not just plain water. I mainly stick to teas when I’m home such as Chamomile, Echinacea, Ginger, Mixed Berries and Green Tea, although I love Yorkshire Tea most of all. I wouldn’t recommend drinking juice all day, as it contains a lot of sugar (which isn’t great for your teeth either). If you’d like to stay healthy and clean, try coconut water (although this isn’t the cheapest option) or try making your own flavoured water (by sitting fruit in water and allowing it to flavour the water naturally) – strawberries and lemons are great for doing this. If you’re addicted to fizzy drinks, try opting for diet or light options instead and slowly weaning yourself off them, and you can dilute energy or sports drinks with water to stop them being too sugary.
What are the benefits of healthy eating?
At Uni, if you’re studying hard, going out a lot, getting involved in societies and clubs and working part-time, it’s easy for your immune system to suffer and you can find yourself getting ill easily. Not only can a healthy diet improve you on the outside, but it can also transform you on the inside. As a student who suffers from anaemia, hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and GERD (a stomach disorder), healthy eating is not only a way of settling my stomach but also vital for energy and maintaining my immune system. It’s easy to fall into the trap of unhealthy eating at Uni, (and by unhealthy, I mean around 1kg of chocolate a day not to mention the crisps and biscuits) something I did in first year, and it was detrimental to my health – if your diet lacks vitamins, iron and iodine, your body will suffer, so attempt to at least try being healthy! It’s okay to have treats too, anyone that knows me knows that I love nothing more than chocolate, cookies and cakes - it’s just about moderating the amount!
What are some special, healthy treats?
These aren’t the healthiest options but in my eyes, they’re better than eating fast food or copious amounts of ice cream. Snack a Jacks Jumbo Caramel Rice Cakes make great snacks and can be found in most supermarkets, Aldi sell mussels for under £4 which can be cooked in olive oil and served with focaccia (under £1.50 in Aldi) which makes a heavenly dinner, homemade pizza isn’t hard to make if you look online (and everybody loves pizza), sweet potato burritos (which my lovely housemate makes for me) and blueberry muffins are good for when you need a sugar boost, too!
What are my cheapest healthy cupboard staples?
These yellow split peas cost 55p from Waitrose and can be added to most meals.
Tesco stock these organic red split lentils for only £1.
Aduki Beans are really filling, and can be added to stews and soups, and they’re only 99p.
Holland and Barrett also offer a quick soup mix, if you want to make an easy dinner (just add veg to it) – it’s only 89p.
This is my ultimate favourite. It’s a bit higher in price (£2.99) and contains more calories and sugar – but this Flame Raison Granola is a great snack if you’re in the library and can make a great breakfast with milk and honey and it lasts a good 2 weeks (or 1 week if you’re me)!
My food shops never amount to more than £20 a week (unless I go out for dinner or really indulge), and from healthy eating, my health has improved as has my skin. You don’t need to go overboard, not every meal has to contain quinoa or lettuce to be healthy, and it’s important that you eat an adequate amount if you’re studying, so don’t deny yourself food! Treat yourself every once in a while, and if you really can’t live without something, then you don’t have to cut it out of your diet. All you can do is try to be as healthy as you can, and with my advice, I hope you’ll be able to eat tasty, healthy and cheap meals!