Keeping a healthy diet at University

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Learning to be self-sufficient is perhaps the most important skill a student learns during their first year at university. Most of us balance an incredible workload: family, friends, work, independent study, and of course, there are lectures and seminars to attend.

It’s perhaps undoubtedly why the BMC Obesity group report in their 2015 study that two thirds of students gain weight, with 60.9% of students packing on an average of 3.38 kg during their first year. This highlights the growing need for us to put more time and focus on our personal health and reflects the need to not feel shame or embarrassment because of a few extra pounds.

I think it’s essential for all of us to recognise the challenges we face and to be kind to ourselves as we attempt to learn all these new skills. A great tip here is to consider learning one or two simple meals that you can bulk make in terms of food. Then, when a flatmate or friend tempts you, you can whip out a portion or two of your home-cooked meal with pride and show off your culinary skills.

Here are two simple recipes perfect for bulk batches:

Homemade Bolognese sauce can be stored as is or mixed with browned off 5% lean beef and simmered for 30 minutes, both versions will last for up to 5 days in the fridge. This can be added to a combination of different carb bases from spaghetti to nachos. Just be creative and choose variety!

In a blender combine:

400g of tinned chopped tomatoes

200ml of beef or vegetable stock,

1 tbsp (Tablespoon) Italian herbs,

salt and pepper to taste,

1 tbsp of sugar,

1 tbsp of puree,

1 tsp (teaspoon) of Worcester sauce,

Mix well and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Alternatively, split 500g of beef mince into 3 portions and brown 1 portion for 5 minutes until no pink remains. The rest can be frozen for future meals, then added sauce, and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. After eating, store food in an airtight container and cool before storing in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Vegetable curry – this is perhaps one of my favourite recipes; Simple, healthy and easily combined in various ways to not bore your plate. Pro tip: Replacing oil in a recipe like this makes it even more healthy and means you can eat this recipe without worry.

ingredients

2 medium potatoes

300 Large Carrot

300 g cauliflower

2-4 healthy sprays of 1 calorie spray oil

1 Large onion

1 tbsp (tablespoons) medium/hot masala powder

227g tinned chopped tomatoes

300 ml of vegetable stock

100g frozen peas

Cooking Method

-Boil potatoes and carrots for 8 minutes and whilst waiting prepare the stock ready.

-Add cauliflower and cook for an extra 2 minutes.

-In a wok or pot fry onions until soft and lightly browned, add curry powder and mix.

-Add tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly.

-Add stock and bring to a gentle simmer.

-Once simmering add all the veg and peas and simmer for 5 minutes.

-Serve with rice or eat as

Store for 5 days in the fridge or frozen for up to 2 months.

Of course, we all know that exercise is another crucial aspect of weight loss. Speaking as someone who has been obese, I fully appreciate that it’s not easy to lose weight and it’s even harder to lose it consistently and healthily. Starving yourself may shift pounds quicker but it doesn’t do you any good in the long term and can have consequences on your long term physical and psychological health. However, eating a balanced diet and working out will help you maintain a healthy weight and improve other aspects of your life. For example, one study by Michelle D. Florence, Mark Asbridge and Paul Veugeler in 2008 indicated that ‘students with decreased overall diet quality were significantly more likely to perform poorly on the assessment.’

This brings me to the conclusion that food for thought is another one of those sayings that feels perfectly fitting. We all need a treat, but we also need healthy lifestyles if we want to get the most out of our university experience. Personally, I won’t be making dieting and weight loss my new year’s resolution. I’ll embrace the idea that a healthy diet and regular exercise are a part of my life, a feature that I love and want to cherish and enjoy forever.

Please share you favourite meals in the comments below and aid in helping each other find extra yummy dishes.

For more information on the articles cited visit:

BMC:  https://bmcobes.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40608-015-0051-7

Florence et al article: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1746-1561.2008.00288.x

By Leanne Mccann

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Published by leannemariemccann

Hi, I’m Leanne and am currently working towards my dreams whilst studying year 1 History and English Joint BA. I have a passion for writing and love meeting new people to learn their stories.

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