Graphic with an orange, kiwi fruit, blueberries and lemon and the words 'Healthy Eating'

Eating Healthy as a Busy University Student

Are you struggling with preparing quick, easy and healthy meals? Fret not, your friendly dietetics student friend has got you covered. I’ve gathered some resources for you, to help navigate your healthy lifestyle to the next level!  

The viral “Lettuce Vuitton” designer bag has become the symbol of the rising cost of living in Australia – and we, students, are one of the major groups of people affected by it. I’ve noticed that my groceries budget is getting higher, so now I’m looking for ways to be flexible about what I buy and cook. Here are some adventurous ways to eat healthily on a budget so you can make healthy food choices with what’s readily available.  

1. Get the Right Resources and Tools

Oftentimes, we go through so much health information that we can get information fatigue. This can leave us so confused that we eventually give up on what we want to achieve. Let me narrow down some resources that are perfectly suited for university students like us: 

  •  ‘No Money No Time’ is founded on decades of nutrition research by the University of Newcastle, including free recipes and a personalised healthy eating quiz. 
  • Nutrition and Dietetics Student Blog is a newly established nutrition and dietetics (N&D) platform created by students for students. It is well supported by the lecturers of the N&D division, so all the information posted is evidence-based and carefully vetted before publishing. evidence-based and carefully vetted before publishing. 
  • Nutrition Australia’s article on what a university student should eat in a day

2. Modify What You Have

Instead of removing high-energy nutrient-poor foods from your diet completely, try modifying your favourite meals to make them higher in energy and nutrients or reducing portion sizes of unhealthy food. There’s no such thing as “good” or “bad” food and the key to healthy eating is to consume a variety of foods in appropriate portions. For holistic health, aim to balance all the food groups eaten during the day and take on appropriate physical activity. 

3. BYO Healthy Snacks

It’s already Week 7, coming to Week 8 … and so the stress is piling up, which can lead to some unhealthy snacking habits. I find myself feeling extra hungry when I’m studying, and I keep craving things to munch on even though I’m not even hungry! The best way to control emotional eating is to prepare ahead and to have snacks on hand that are nutritious and filling. Snacks that are high in protein and fiber can help keep us full, like nuts, fruits, oats and hard-boiled eggs. 

A snack pile consisting of almonds, oats, cashews and a seed mix

4. Set Realistic Goals

A realistic healthy eating goal should include food you enjoy along with plenty of healthy, fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and lean meats. By incorporating healthy food choices bit by bit, you can slowly start to wean off your favourite highly processed foods, moving away from foods that are energy dense but nutrient poor.  

5. Stay Hydrated!

As cliché as this tip may sound, drinking water can easily be neglected by students like us. We make time to study and we socialise, but it’s easy to forget to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. If you drink alcohol or exercise a lot, you should aim to hydrate yourself more. It is best to carry a water bottle along to class and keep it handy during late-night study sessions, so you don’t forget to stay hydrated. 

Even after you’ve planned out your healthy eating pattern, maintaining that healthy diet has its fair share of difficulties to stick through. Lettuce do our best (pun intended) to make healthy food choices, and occasionally enjoy our favourite foods to stay motivated for the year ahead.  

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