Penarth nutrition

A Sneaky Insight into the
World of Nutrition

Eating at University

Thousands of Welsh teenagers will soon be leaving home to experience University life for the first time. The first few months will be very busy with lots of learning, socialising and partying, this combined with a cocktail of viruses and bacteria floating around the halls of residence and Student Union bars could place an extra pressure on their wellbeing. To help them manage this new adventure I have put together a few ideas for a student’s food intake that might improve their nutrient levels and help their health stay on track.

Students, this is for you:

Before You Go

Ask your Mum - Get some cooking ideas from your Mum, Dad, Grandma, Uncle or whoever is best qualified in your family. They are bound to have a few easy to cook family recipes that they can teach you before you go.

Food Shopping

Planning - Make a list and shop once per week rather than going every couple of days as this will keep your cupboards full so you are less likely to fall for the lure of a take away.

Shop around - to get the best value for money, corner shops can be expensive for some items so try the local markets, green grocers and butchers as well as larger supermarkets.

What To Eat

Proteins – Good quality proteins include chicken, oily fish, white fish, red meats, cottage cheese and eggs. Protein is vital for cell growth and repair, immune function, and the production of enzymes and hormones. Make sure that you include protein with every meal; it will keep your nutrient levels up and help to balance your blood sugar which will mean you will avoid energy slumps.

Carbohydrates – Choose complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta, sweet potatoes, quinoa and oats. These foods are more nutritious than the highly processed varieties, will keep you fuller for longer and therefore keep your energy levels stable. Don’t be tempted to fill your trolley with bags of white pasta, bread and rice; although this type food is less expensive it does not contain enough of the vital nutrients you need.

Fats - Fatty acids form part of the walls of every cell in the body. They also make hormone-like substances, which are important for many body processes, including making energy and maintaining a healthy heart, blood vessels and immune system. Choose healthy fats like coconut oil, oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocado.

Vegetables – Include as many different colours and varieties of vegetables as you can every day. They are full of micro nutrients, fibre and are, as Mum always says, very good for you! Fresh seasonal produce is always best but frozen vegetables like peas and broccoli or tins of tomatoes or sweetcorn are good to have on standby.

A Few Food Ideas

Eggs – are a low cost, good quality protein and contain B vitamins, selenium and vitamin D. Buy free range and make sure you learn how to boil, poach or scramble eggs and make an omelette before you go. Scrambled eggs with spinach and tomatoes on wholemeal toast is a quick and nutritious way to start your day.

Chicken – there is no need to choose the most expensive chicken breasts (unless they are on offer), try the thighs, they are cheaper, tastier and contain more zinc. Consider roasting a whole chicken as it will keep for a couple of days in the fridge and you can use it in salads for lunch and also make a curry or risotto for main meals. Don’t forget to freeze the leftovers and you can boil the carcass to make a delicious soup.

Mince – If you are making a bolognaise, lasagne or meat balls try turkey mince, it is cheaper and tastes just as good.

Beans and Pulses – these are a cost effective addition to the student diet since they provide carbohydrate and protein in one go. As well as the classic beans on toast, adding lentils, chick peas or white beans to sauces, curries and casseroles will pad out the meal making it go a bit further. Hummus (made with chick peas) is a great snack to have between lunch and dinner.

Fish – tuna is a typical student store cupboard staple and it doesn’t just taste good in a jacket potato, try tuna lasagne or tuna fish cakes. If you like the taste of mackerel or sardines these fish offer much higher levels of nutrients such as calcium, vitamin A and omega 3 fats.

Oats – provide concentrated source of fibre and nutrients such as manganese, selenium, magnesium and iron. As well as porridge and flap jacks, oats can be used instead of bread crumbs to coat chicken or fish mix with cheese and sprinkle over tray bakes such as tuna pasta or lasagne. Add a handful to pad out soups or casseroles or combine with tinned fish and an egg to make fish cakes.

Herbs and Spices – Invest in a few packets of different spices before you go, a little goes a long way and it will help to liven up a plain piece of chicken or add some flavour to a pasta or rice dish. These ingredients have nutritional value too, turmeric is an antioxidant, ginger is an anti inflammatory and cinnamon can help to balance blood sugar.

How To Eat

3 Meals a Day – Start as you mean to go on and eat protein with your breakfast, it really will help you concentrate through the morning and also rebalance your blood sugar and energy if you have had a heavy night partying! Preparing lunch before you leave for lectures is not only more cost effective but likely to be healthier than the canteen. Try salads with a source of protein or home made soup in a flask. Eat a balanced home cooked meal before you go out for the evening will reduce the effect of any alcohol (this is a good thing!) and make it less likely that you will buy a kebab on the way home!

Hygiene – The last thing you need is food poisoning so keep your kitchenware clean, make sure you wash your hands before you prepare your food and keep raw and cooked meats separate in the fridge.

Cook Together - Once you get to know your house mates, consider cooking together a few times each week, clubbing together and buying food in bulk is more cost effective. Plus, it has the added benefit that you will have a night off from cooking when it is not your turn, you get a wider variety of meals and it will help you to bond with your new friends! If you have vastly different tastes then try bulk cooking yourself and freezing your left overs, you will have a portion of soup, curry or bolognaise ready to heat up on those day when you haven’t got the time or the inclination to cook.

A Little Extra

The first few weeks in University are going to be pretty hectic and your usual diet might need a little boost to cope with the extra demands. A good quality multi vitamin and a probiotic would be a good idea to give your body some support.

A couple of my favourites are:-

Biocare - One A Day Vitamins & Minerals £16.75 / 60 tablets

Lamberts Healthcare – A to Z Multi £7.30 / 60 tablets

Optibac – Every Day Probiotics £10.99 / 60 capsules





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