Coming to uni is a big – and slightly stressful – step. One of the worries I had was having to cook every day, even though I enjoy it very much. It just takes time and seems difficult to fit into your schedule. Especially, if you want to try healthy eating! Buying a frozen pizza and reheating it in the oven is a very tempting thing to do, but it’s not a very healthy way to live! I want to share with you some of my top tips for a healthy (and easy) diet to make the step to uni easier for you.
1. Have good, healthy bases for your meals
It’s a small trick which very easily can make your diet much healthier. Try swapping white bread for brown. Preferably, go with the one from a bakery not a supermarket as it will have less artificial preservatives. There are quite a few nice bakeries in York, my personal favourite is Bluebird Bakery in the Shambles market.
You can also get brown rice, pasta made from durum wheat or chickpeas, and (one of my favourites) buckwheat groats. They all make a tasty and healthy base for easy meals; just add to them some tomato sauce, fresh veg and voilà! A meal is ready.
The same goes for cereal, if you enjoy eating them. You can swap them for oat flakes, quinoa flakes or white semolina. To make your cereal even healthier, add some nuts and fresh fruits.
2. Eat a lot of veg
Eating a lot of vegetables (especially fresh), is very beneficial for you. They have a lot of vitamins, fibre and also help to lower the glycaemic index of your meal (a measure of how much the food influences your blood sugar levels: the lower, the better). It’s very easy, healthy and also makes your food look nice and colourful.
If you – like me – enjoy eating salads, try adding different cheeses, boiled eggs or falafels to them. They will have more calories and so will last you for longer. And remember, you do need some fats for vitamins A, D, E, K to be absorbed, so don’t forget to sprinkle your veg with some olive oil! Fruits are a good thing as well and a nice alternative to sweets. However, they have more sugar than vegetables, so be careful with how much of them you eat.
3. Be prepared with some healthy ready-made meals
It’s likely that sometimes likely that you won’t have the time – or energy – to cook, for example in exam periods or when you’re sick. The best thing you can do to prepare for this situation is some batch cooking and freeze some of your own homemade meals. However, this isn’t always possible, and you may find yourself in the situation where you just need to buy ready meals. A good thing to do then is to look at the ingredients lists to choose the meals that don’t have many artificial preservatives. My recommendation would be brands like Suma or Free and Easy. You can get their products in Nisa on camps, Co-op or Tullivers organic shop in the city.
4. Limit the amount of sweets
The advice that can never be missing from any healthy tips list! I know it’s quite obvious, but it’s also quite difficult to stick to, especially if you’re a sweet tooth like me. My top tip is to only eat sweets on the weekends. I don’t buy any during the week, and also don’t have any surplus in my room. This stops me from being tempted to ‘eat just a bit’ during the week.
Also, since I buy them only from time to time, I can afford fancier treats! For example, cakes from Betty’s are not only delicious, but also so pretty that they recompense all of the breaks from sweets.
5. Be careful with the drinks
Remember that even a healthy juice or smoothie will have quite a lot of natural sugars. A tea or coffee with milk (especially sweetened) will have quite a bit of calories and sugar as well. Try to control their amount. The healthiest is always water, but herbal teas (such as peppermint) also work very well and – although they’re not everyone’s cup of tea (pun intended) – I think they are quite nice.
This is just a short list of tricks that you can implement to make your diet healthier. Feel free to pick just a few and give them a go. I hope they’ll help you to figure out your own way to a healthy diet. Good luck with your culinary journey at the Uni! It’s not as difficult as it seems, I promise 😊