Anyone whose been to University knows how hard it is to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Somewhere between the late nights, tight budget and laziness; the dream of Baby Kale, Avocado, Duck Eggs on fresh Tiger Loaf for brekkie is pulverised and processed and packaged into a cold, hard bowl of reality flavoured knock-off Golden Grahams. But have no fear. Health and wellbeing may just be round the corner. We asked Daniel O’Shaugnessey aka ‘The Naked Nutritionist’ six questions about student nutrition which you have been dying to ask from foods to avoid to
1. ‘What is your advice for students on a budget to maintain a healthy diet?’
Plan the week’s ‘menu’ based on your budget. Always check the fridge and cupboards for what is already there before going shopping – no need to double up. Crucially – ALWAYS shop with a list.
Do NOT shop when hungry or tired. Poor choices are made. Shop after a good breakfast or lunch. Check for coupons, vouchers and loyalty card points. Look for deals on meat and fish. Also remember to check use-by dates so you’ll eat your produce before it goes off.
Get friendly with your local green grocer, butcher, fishmonger or market. They do better deals and are usually much cheaper than pre packaged supermarket produce.
Buy in season fruit and vegetables, as they are usually cheaper. Check out this link to find out what’s in season.
You don’t have to go fresh! Frozen fruit and veg, and canned (in just water) last longer and are often cheaper than fresh produce. Try and bag yourself some responsibly farmed canned fish, which are really cheap and very healthy. This is a really helpful tip from the Naked Nutritionist!
Buying in bulk can be a lot cheaper long term, but make sure you calculate the amount per item and whether you have the space in the cupboard for it.
Make larger portions of casseroles, soups, stews, curries and freeze in individual or family sized containers. Your saving time and money on your cooking – lunch and/or dinner for a week!
Use leftovers! One chicken can make several meals – breasts for a roast, legs and thighs for a curry/casserole/stir fry, carcass for a stock/soup. It is much more economical to buy one whole chicken than lots of separate bits.
When making extra, divide the leftovers straight after cooking and put in the fridge or freezer within 2 hours of cooking to avoid food poisoning. Portioning out after cooking and putting it away prevents over eating at meal times. Reheat meals thoroughly…. and be careful reheating rice. This a super important piece advice from the Naked Nutritionist!
Avoid precut, pre washed, ready to eat products which are often much more expensive than those you have to prepare. Bagged salads and veg go off very quickly and are regularly wasted.
Make your own lunch rather than relying on expensive sandwiches or lunches at café’s etc. This gives you greater control over expenditure and your nutrition.
Make use of pulses – these are cheaper than meat, rich in fibre and filling. Swapping half meat for half pulses in shepherds pie, curries, stews and salads makes your meat go further.
2. ‘How does bad nutrition affect your skin?’
A poor diet can lack the nutrients to support your skin. It can mean you don’t have enough antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids which help keep the skin elastic and free from damage.
A high sugar diet can also increase the stress hormone cortisol; which can equal breakouts. Also too much animal fat can head to an increased production of free radicals, which can interfere with skin health on a cellular level. This is a really interesting tip from the Naked Nutritionist, especially for people who suffer with acne!
Even people who follow a low fat diet can have skin problems as the skin still needs some fat. The good kind can be found in certain nuts and olive oil.
3. ‘What items in the supermarket are best avoided for better skin?’
In short – high sugar foods and processed foods. Breakfast cereals are best avoided, as these are very high in sugar. Try to find one that is less than 5g sugar per 100g (…it’s hard!). Processed breads, pastries. In fact anything that is refined is bad for your skin, it quite literally can prematurely age it, through making it less elastic.
Dairy produce (if intolerant to it). It’s a common food sensitivity and can be a detrimental factor in skin conditions such as acne or eczema. Alcohol! It’s high in sugar which can spike blood sugar and can dehydrate the skin and deplete collagen, the most abundant protein in our body.
4. ‘What items in the supermarket are best avoided for general wellbeing?’
Doughnuts, pastries and other confectionary. Although they feel good at the time, the nutritional value of these items is very poor. But we all deserve a treat from time to time so choose dark chocolate over 80%. Fizzy drinks should be totally avoided – have sparkling water if you need a fizzy fix.
Fruit Juices are full of sugar, so avoid! Why not make your own, or a healthy smoothie, with vegetables too? Diet foods and low fat foods can be full of sugar – so be sure to check the label. Free From foods also worth checking the labels as often full of preservatives.
5. ‘How much nutrition can you actually gain from a pizza?’
Believe it or not but it can be quite healthy… if made from scratch. It can be a well-balanced meal depending on the toppings put on it. Add some protein, keep the crust thin, cheese light and make sure to pack some veg on it. Ready-made ‘Meat-Feasts’…not so much. Hey, this is a pretty exciting piece of info from the Naked Nutritionist!
6. ‘How bad is the student diet of binge drinking and kebab at 3am?’
Unsurprisingly, it’s not great as students tend to go well beyond the recommended drinking limit. Try lowering the shots and opt for water in between drinks. Try kombucha (tea drink) instead of alcohol and, if getting a kebab, then get a shish (skewer) with salad after.
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