Healthy student food swaps

KiwiUniversity is a difficult place to be healthy. With late nights, takeaways, exam stress and the occasional alcoholic beverage, our bodies can take a lashing from student life, and, as enjoyable as cramming an entire packet of chocolate fingers into your mouth whilst revising is, it’s obviously not good for you or your waistline.

So if you’re wondering if there is any way you can escape creeping weight gain, feeling lacklustre and being constantly tired whilst enjoying uni life and studying for your degree, have no fear. The most effective and least difficult way to improve your health is to improve your diet.

But I don’t want to give up my three packets of Monster Munch a day I hear you cry! Well the most important part of eating healthily at uni is enjoying everything in moderation. No one wants to give up their favourite chocolate bar forever, and one takeaway after a night out isn’t going to kill you. It’s all about eating what your Mum would want you to about 80% of the time, and enjoying a pint or some Haribo for the rest of it. If you put into place some of these healthy student food swaps in your day-to-day diet, I guarantee your body will be much more forgiving when you enjoy the odd packet of crisps or two.

Swap: white bread for wholegrain bread

Your mum has been trying to tell you this since you were old enough to choose what to cram into the toaster, but wholegrain varieties of bread, bagels and other carbs like pasta are higher in vitamins, fibre, antioxidants and minerals than their white counterparts. If you can’t quite convince your taste buds to enjoy wholegrain, then grab a 50/50 loaf so you’re still getting the benefits of brown bread whilst enjoying your slice of toast.

Swap: sugary breakfast cereals for porridge

Porridge is an all-round amazing food. It is cheap- normally about 75p for a big bag of supermarket own brand stuff- and so filling you won’t be reaching for the snacks before lunchtime. You can make it just as yummy as your standard breakfast bowl (which, if you’re a fan of the chocolate variety of cereal, can contain the same percentage of sugar as a bar of chocolate) by adding honey, a natural and fairly low calorie way to liven up your porridge. You can even add apple, banana, raisins or seeds (if you can be bothered) to make it even better for you.

Swap: Extra pasta for extra veggies

Many of us rely heavily on pasta based meals whilst at university, mainly because they’re quick, easy and tasty, and if you can swap from white to whole wheat then you’ve definitely got the basis of a healthy meal. Unfortunately, it is pretty high in calories, and most of us (including myself) tend to slightly exaggerate a serving size. The best way to combat this and avoid pasta-related bloating is to either weigh out a serving according to the packet or, if you’re like the rest of us and can’t be bothered, simply cut back a little on your measurements and make up for it by bulking out your sauce with veggies. You’ll barely notice anything’s missing, you’ll load up on vitamins to help fight your fresher’s flu and you’ll save on calories. It’s a win-win situation.

Basically, when it comes to food at uni, just use a bit of common sense and you can’t go far wrong: the more you fill up on the good stuff, the less room there is for the not so good. Fruits and veggies are great, chocolate and crisps less so, and if you can balance out every greasy kebab with a few days’ worth of healthy meals, you’re pretty much good to go. Oh, and don’t forget to drink a lot of water. Not only is it a lifesaver after a night out, it’ll make your skin nice and plump, and your insides happy – who doesn’t want that?

Photo Credit: Sergiu Bacioiu via Compfight cc

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Holly Wildish-Jones

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