Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Staying healthy and avoiding weight gain at University

Hello :) Food has been on my mind a lot recently (…well when is it not!) It’s hard not to think about it, especially since starting university. Food is everywhere! You walk around and there’s people sipping on coke, munching on sandwiches or having coffee with friends. What I wanted to talk about is how to keep healthy and avoid weight gain at university. And I recently read an article, which outlined how it’s almost inevitable for first year university students to gain weight. Great!

Well it’s a lot easier to than you think. There are people walking around the campus eating, all the time. You see food and you want it. And the availability of food is one, which there is so much choice! At my campus they offer a variety of options including Thai/Chinese takeaway, subway, wraps, cakes etc, which I know others do- my point being the options are endless.

Food also becomes a very social event. You might finish a lecture and all sit down to eat. It is very rare to see one person of the group eating and the rest sitting and talking. If someone is eating, somehow you feel obliged to as well. Or if a friend goes and grabs a coffee, you might decide to want one too.

Do you agree?

Well I thought I'd make a list of simply ways to stay healthy at university!

  1. Make your own lunch and snacks. Food you make is probably going to contain less added sugar, fat and salt than takeaway options provide. Here are some healthy lunch/snack options I like to take:    
-Wholemeal/wholegrain sandwiches filled with salad and falafels, cheese, egg or another protein source.
- Vitaweats with cheese. Other wholegrain crackers (such as rye vitas) are good too. Just watch out for other crackers that contain added salt and flavourings.
 Vegetable sticks (carrots, cucumber, celery) with dip.
- Fruit. I usually take apples, as they don’t squash in my bag!
  Nuts/seeds. Great to nibble on during/in between lectures when you're feeling a bit hungry
-  Falafels balls. Usually make from chickpeas these are always super filling!
 Small tins of chickpeas/four beans. Great to add to salads!

Quick tip: to make an easy salad cook a few cups of grains/legumes (chickpeas, quinoa, barley, brown rice etc) the night before and store in the fridge. In the morning simply take a cup and mix this with a few vegetables and your done! Easy!

But, if you need to buy your lunch/drink at university remember:

  1. If you buy a coffee, choose the smallest size and don’t add sugar.
  2. If you’re buying a sandwich, look for one with wholegrain bread instead of white bread/rolls/Turkish bread.
  3. Try to avoid consuming soft drinks/iced tea/juices. These contain too much added sugar. And don’t forget if you drink a soft drink in the morning, the sugar is going to stay on your teeth the whole day. Fruit juice can be ok sometimes but it’s much better to eat the whole fruit as this contains the added fiber and will keep you more sustained.
  4. Instead, take a water bottle with you and fill it regularly. They usually have water coolers around the campus where you can easily refill bottles.
And some other tips:

6.  Always eat breakfast! This is so, so important! You need long lasting energy to get through the day! Here are some easy and quick ideas:
-       Porridge/muesli. Oats are very nourishing and especially coming into winter. I usually flavour mine with some cinnamon instead of sugar and top with some nuts/fruit.
-       Wholegrain/sourdough toast with: ricotta/honey, tahini/honey, almond butter or other nut butters, eggs, mushrooms, avocado etc. So many options!
-       Yoghurt topped with oats/fruit/nuts/seeds.
I haven’t written any cereals- for the fact they generally contain a lot of added sugar but I think at the end of the day it’s better to eat something rather than nothing!

7. If you want a treat- try baking it yourself! Muffins/cakes in cafes are usually very oversized and contain a lot more butter and sugar than you’d add in yourself. It’s a lot a more fulfilling (and fun!) baking too.

In saying all this- I’m not saying you have to have a super strict and restricted diet. Just remember that the greater proportion of fresh, whole foods you’re eating the less you’ll be eating of the processed kind! Too easy ;)


Do you find you eat differently at university/study/school etc than you do when you're at home? Do you eat what your friends eat? Any thoughts are welcome!

Hannah x

P.S. I wrote this on the train this morning, sorry if it sounds rushed!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Hannah! Fabulous tips. I suppose my uni friends and I were different from the norm, being Dietetics students and all. So we didn't really struggle with this. But many many do though. The drinking does it too! Your advice is wonderful.
    Heidi xo