#NationalNutritionMonth is a campaign held annually in March which encourages us to make educated food choices and develop smart eating and physical activity habits.

So, what is nutrition and why is it important to you as a student? 🍎

Quite simply, nutrition is the relationship between food and how it influences our body’s function and health. So yes, literally, you are what you eat. If you fuel your body with nutritious foods, you’ll increasingly feel energised, happier, and healthier, whereas if you lack nutritional foods you may feel as though you regularly lack energy and later down the line may develop long term health problems. 

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a specialist in this field, in fact I’m a student just like you! I know how difficult it can be to eat well whilst balancing a social life and completing a degree, so I’m here to share some pearls of wisdom and help you make smarter food choices

Let's balance... 🧘🏼‍♀️

I believe a balanced diet is one which supplies food which meets all the nutrient requirements your body needs in terms of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) and micronutrients (water, fibre, vitamins and minerals). There’s not a single food which provides all of these, which is why I recommend you eat a diet based on starchy carbohydrates, with lots of fruit and veg (at least 5 a day). Also, be sure to include moderate amounts of low-fat dairy products, lean meat and fish as well as non-dairy protein (see here for high protein vegan options). Balance is key, and you deserve a treat after a long day of lectures, but don’t over-do it on the donuts and be sure to limit your intake of foods containing high saturated fat and sugars.

I don’t think there are any ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. Rather, some foods are just more nutritious than others. Everyone has different daily calorie in-takes, however we should all aim to consume certain amounts of each food group a day. It’s worth looking at the food labels on products too and trying to eat less items containing a red label, as these often include components greater than the recommended daily intake. In terms of ‘quick wins’ there are several changes you could consider, such as trying chicken sausages in your meal, instead of pork (which are often high in sodium and saturated fats).

Food VS Finance 💸

1 in 4 students have said that they eat ready meals every day. Why? Because it’s, convenient and cheaper than buying separate ingredients and having to cook from scratch. Have you noticed the red labels on the front of these products? Ready meals are high in saturated fat and salt. Over consumption of these regularly over time may have negative impacts on your body and health.

Eating ‘healthier’ can often be viewed as more expensive, however here’s some of my tips to help you get your nutrition up and keep your spending down…

 

Cook & Keep 🥘

You’re less likely to order a take-away or heat up a ready meal as a ‘quick’ fix if you’ve got food which you’ve previously cooked and stored. You can batch cook for the week, or alternatively make extra the night before. I’d recommend cooking meals that include carbs such as rice, sweet potato, or wholegrain pasta. Additionally, aim to include sources of protein such as fish, lentils, or chicken… along with lots of veg to stay fuller for longer. Experiment with new foods in the kitchen to keep things fun and exciting – you’re more likely to continue to cook if you enjoy doing it! See our previous blog for inspo.

 

Be fussy with your fruit 🍓

By this, I mean, avoid buying pre-cut fruit and vegetables all the time. It will work out cheaper to buy them whole and peel/chop them yourself! Alternatively, try buying frozen fruit or veg which can be stored until you need it. If you’re buying tinned fruit and veg, avoid ones with added salt or sugar. Fruit and veg contain lots of essential vitamins and you can also take vitamin tablets from as little as 85p from ALDI

 

Check your chicken… 🐔

Similarly, to fruit and veg, buying diced chicken is a lot more expensive! Protein is essential for muscle growth, strength, and body development, however you can also up your protein in-take by adding protein powders to yoghurts or porridge or eating high protein snacks. There are lots of vegan friendly protein supplements around so you’re still able to get those ‘gains’ no matter your dietary requirements. 

Aim to make a conscious effort this #NationalNutritionMonth and experience new benefits, including better wellbeing, increased concentration, and less fatigue.

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