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Top tips and swaps for a healthier student lifestyle!

Published Tuesday, 11 March, 2014 by Beth Bradshaw

For most students, being healthy is easier said than done. But with one University study finding 94% of students wishing they were healthier, what’s stopping them? Well, the reality is, most don’t know where to start, so really it’s no surprise that most of us live off ready meals and takeaways.

Living a healthy lifestyle and being healthy is two different things – I’ve heard countless students say ‘I’m being healthy this week’ which tends to be a short term intention, where they banish themselves to eating only salad leaves and carrots. However, living a healthy lifestyle is more about changing your eating habits so that in the long run, you'll lead a healthy life, but still being able to enjoy delicious food.

So this week I’ve decided to show the studentrecipes.com readers how to eat healthy with some top tips and swaps that will help you towards a healthier student lifestyle – it’s easier than you thought!

Top Tips:

  • The Eatwell Plate: Take a look at this link to the NHS website – it basically shows you how much of what foods you should be eating and what food groups they are part of. I usually keep this in mind when I’m making my evening meal to give me an idea how much of my plate should consist of meat, carbohydrates (such as pasta, rice and potatoes) and vegetables. Note that naughty things like cakes and pastries are on there, but only in small amounts!

  • Go meat free once or twice a week: If you haven’t already read it, here is my blog from a few weeks' ago all about how we should go veggie a few times a week with some great meat free recipes. Not only is it easy on your wallet but a great way to cut down on nasty saturated fats which are often found in meats like beef and pork.

  • Measure your portions: This tip applies to me too! I’m awful for chucking in half a bag of pasta and admittedly (and shamefully) eating nearly all of it when it could probably serve 2-3 people! Really, we only need around 75-100g of pasta or rice per person because don’t forget when cooked, they double in size and weight. Get your scales out (or borrow your flatmate's) and measure every time you cook it to prevent over/unnecessary eating and waste!

  • Be calorie smart: We are recommended to eat around 2000 kcals for your average woman and 2500 for average man daily, so make the most of each calorie and limit those ‘empty calories’. If you had a read of my sugar blog then you’ll know that I mean by empty calories, but if you don’t check it out to find out!

  • Check the labels: You’ll be amazed to find out what actually goes into some of the foods we buy! It’s easy to look at the nutritional chart on the front of the packet, but be careful as they often are not representative of the whole product. For example, a can of soup may only tell you how many kcals, sugar, fat and salt are in ½ the can when the chances are you’ll be having the whole can. Keep a particular look out for saturated fats and salt as they easily creep up in processed foods. Avoid foods with more than 1.5g of salt per 100g or 5g of saturated fat per 100g as they are considered unhealthy options.

  • Eat slower: Did you know it takes our brain 20 minutes to realise we are full, so we often continue to eat even when we are actually full? Eating slowly whilst talking to your flatmates can give your brain the chance to say stop! – I’m full! Aim to be satisfied, not stuffed. Plus, I believe if you scoff your food down in the space of 5 minutes you don’t really appreciate it!

Healthier Swaps:

  • White bread, pasta and rice = Wholegrain alternatives.
    Quite an obvious one, but now not only do I buy brown bread but pasta and rice too, as wholegrains are a much healthier choice than your average white refined goods. Wholegrains contain greater fibre and vitamin content but they are also absorbed more slowly by our bodies meaning they keep us fuller for longer.

  • Sunflower/Vegetable Oil = Rapeseed/Olive Oil
    Not all fats are bad for you. Oils like rapeseed and olive contain high amounts of ‘good’ fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which are linked to good heart health and cholesterol.

  • Iceberg Lettuce = Rocket, Spinach & Watercress
    This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be eating iceberg lettuce, but it’s not the most nutritional salad you can buy, and in my opinion it lacks in flavour. Leaves like spinach, rocket and watercress are not only bursting with flavour but also vitamins and minerals.

  • Adding Salt = Add Herbs & Spices
    We should be eating no more than 6g of salt every day, however, 85% of men and 69% of women are eating more than they should. Around 75% of the salt we eat is already found in foods such as soup, cereals, sauces and breads so we really don’t need to be adding more to our meals.

  • Opt for Leaner Cuts: Meats like mince, lamb and pork can be quite fatty, and whilst they are important in our diets, we should try to opt for leaner cuts which contain less fat or go for chicken or turkey.

  • Eat more beans, lentils and pulses: They are a great plant based source of protein and iron, and replacing half the meat in a dish with them can really cut back on the fat without compromising on the taste. So next time you make a Chilli Con Carne, halve the mince and replace with kidney beans.

I hope this week’s blog has given you an insight into leading a healthier lifestyle, and shown you it’s not as hard as you thought! Remember, changing your eating habits now will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle in the long run, and you will learn them for life.

Have you got any tips, tricks or recipes that will help students kick start their eating habits? Don’t forget to upload them to Studentrecipes.com!

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