By Sam Harrison @samuelsaidthis
Moving away to university is a momentous occasion in any person’s life. The new-found responsibility for yourself can be incredibly liberating, exciting and a significant learning curve in the progression of adulthood. The freedom to take charge of your day-to-day life means getting up when you want (lectures permitting!), venturing where you want and perhaps most noteworthy – buying and eating any food that you may desire! (Yum!)
Reports suggest 46% of freshers miss their mum’s cooking more than anything else from home, but is the food we consume at Uni serving us well, especially at a time when optimum energy and brain function is needed to navigate the way through the maze of assignments, revision and deadlines? University living is quite the hedonistic culture: partying, boozing, irregular sleep and unhealthy eating. This is all the clearer as reports suggest over a quarter of students gain up to two stone during their first year away from home.
So just how much thought should we give good nutrition and food choice during those all important student years?
A number of factors can influence diet and food choice as a student. Balancing your social life, university work and part-time job – not to mention your dwindling student loan – can prove to be decidedly tricky! This means eating a nourishing diet often falls down the list of priorities. Generally, when students eat they want something quick and convenient, and slaving over a hot stove for 40 minutes isn’t going to cut it. Unfortunately, this often means consumption of fast food, cheesy pasta and countless takeaways. Whilst perfectly fine occasionally, regularly eating these foods could be of detriment to your health and of reaching your full potential at university.
The cost of funding your own meals can be quite a shock to begin with and if this is something you struggle with, a little planning and preparation is key to keeping your stomach and bank account full. We all know we need fruit and vegetables to thrive, yet the majority of students aren’t in a position to buy fresh, pricey organic produce. However, buying frozen varieties is an effective way of saving money in the long run. Additional benefits include not having to be slaves to “best by” dates, as they last much longer. The freezing process also ensures the produce retain a high percentage of their nutritional value, so it’s quite the health investment! Doing a bigger weekly shop and devising a meal plan also negates the risk of food (and money!) wastage.
Just a tip: doing your big shop during the evening may save you some cash, as this is when supermarkets reduce the price on many items.
Most students love a good night out with friends. Who can blame them? Cheap drinks can tempt us out a few times a week and blowing off steam is an important way to counteract the more stressful aspects of studying.
But just what are these boozy nights doing to our waistlines?
Studies have shown most students will consume roughly 1,500 calories in alcoholic beverages on a night out. Add to that a further 2,800 calories in drunken snacks such as greasy pizzas or burgers, and an additional 2,000 calories in hangover food the following day.
That’s a shocking 6,300 of additional calories for a night out!
We won’t go as far as recommending you swap your Jagerbombs (200 calories each FYI) for wheat grass shots, but keep moderation in mind in order to save money, feel your best and minimise those hangovers!
If sleep deprived and in need of an energy boost, some turn to caffeinated, sugary energy drinks like Lucozade or Red Bull. Guess what? They’re very low in nutritional value and jam-packed with empty calories. Regular use of these sugary stimulants may lead to tighter jeans and a growing dependency on sugar to see you through the day. Alternatives could include coffee with little to no added sugar or a natural fruit juice for a quick hit of natural sugars to keep you on the ball on those more demanding days. Physical activity can help in reducing the damage done by poor food choice, as it gives you a chance to burn some of those calories. It’s also a great natural way to boost your overall mood. Feel the endorphins! There’s plenty of choice, with a range of sporting societies to choose from at university!
So, hopefully we’ve given you a few hints, tips and ideas. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming or boring. Just remember everything in moderation combined with a little forward planning and you’re bound to reap the rewards.