It might sound like it’s impossible to do, but moving away from home and into halls does not have to be synonymous with a terrible diet. If you don’t have accommodation that caters, you’ll have to be more proactive about looking after yourself. Below are some manageable ways to eat well at university.
‘Eating healthy’ is such a vague expression and while it is ultimately the aim, I have unpacked the term into more tangible goals:
- Saving time
- Saving money
- Not compromising on nutrition
- Making healthier choices
Make meals ahead of time. Timetables at university can be so irregular, and you might have one jam-packed day and then an entire afternoon free the next. Be wise about your time management and use half a day once a week to really organise your food for the week.
- Make a big batch of one meal and freeze it in portion size containers
- Roast a huge tray of vegetables on Sunday – and then use them for the whole week – in wraps, quesadillas, pasta – anything! Peppers, courgettes, carrots and broccoli are all good options.
- Keep the freezer section as full as possible with frozen veggies – you can defrost them quickly in the microwave and throw them into soups/salads/stir fries/fajitas.
- Prepare breakfast the night before to save time in the morning – overnight oats are easy to make and make a wholesome start to the day.
- Bring your favourite reusable water bottle everywhere you go. Spending money on bottled water is a terrible waste. If you aren’t a huge fan of plain water, trying infusing it.
- Make your own tea or coffee at halls and take it to lectures in a takeaway mug. You could save £20 a week by doing this.
- Ideally, make lunch at home and take it to class with you. Invest in some plastic containers so that you can always transport your food. You could either make extra if you cook one evening, or even just make a sandwich. Either way, it will save money in the long run.
- Smoothies and juices always seem tempting and might make you feel good, but they’re often very high in sugar. It is also proven that they won’t keep you as full as just eating an apple would. Rather than wasting sometimes up to £5 on a drink, choose a couple of pieces of fruit. You’ll benefit from more fibre, more nutrients and they’ll keep you satisfied for longer.
NOT COMPROMISING ON NUTRITION
- Bananas are a great snack for on-the-go. They provide the perfect boost of energy and will keep you full in between long lectures.
- Try and sneak a bit of protein into each meal. Eggs are affordable, nutritious and so versatile.
- We all get ‘hangry’ (hunger+angry) sometimes. To stave off a total meltdown, always have a snack in your bag. It could be roasted almonds, a granola bar – something that will keep for a few weeks in case you forget it’s there!
- Of course you will eat a readymade meal or grab a takeaway on occasion. But for the days when you’re preparing an ‘instant’ meal, don’t forget that you can always top it up with veggies. An instant macaroni cheese can always be improved with some broccoli, spinach or sweetcorn.
MAKING HEALTHIER CHOICES
- Don’t drink a huge proportion of your calories through sugary drinks. If you can’t make the time to exercise regularly, drink better – lots of water and no fizzy drinks.
- Keep healthy snacks on hand in your room. Baby carrots + hummus/cans of soup/instant porridge are all perfect desk-friendly companions.
- High fibre, low sugar cereals are good options when you have the midnight munchies.
- Peanut butter is always a good standby, whether on toast or with apple slices.
- My recipe for roasted chickpeas is a great way of adding protein and fibre to your diet. Cans of chickpeas are so reasonable, you can buy 3 or 4, make a huge tray and nibble on them wherever you are.
Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.