For some of you, this will be the first time you live on your own. That means you’ll need to get used to doing your own grocery shopping – probably on a tight budget – and preparing your own meals. It’s important to eat a balanced diet so you can stay healthy and give your brain the fuel it needs.
Eating a varied diet is good for your mind and body. It can help you learn better, work more efficiently, stay in a good mood and cope with the stress of student life. It also slows the aging process.
Tips for healthy eating
- Take the time for grocery shopping – You’ll now be responsible for stocking your own fridge. Select fresh, nutritious products (which aren’t necessarily the most expensive), make a list, and stick to it. And never go shopping on an empty stomach – otherwise you’ll impulse buy and end up with more than you need. Compare prices on a per-kilo basis; supermarket-branded products can be good value for money. Be wary of promotions, which are often designed to entice you to buy large quantities and spend more than you planned.
- Buy fresh, seasonal produce – Avoid ready-meals, as they can be expensive and full of salt and additives.
- Cook your own meals – This is a great time to learn how to cook! You’ll find that cooking is not only relaxing, but can also help you save money and provide an opportunity to bond with your roommates.
Do’s and Don’ts
1) Do eat three balanced meals a day and try not to snack in between
- Make time every morning for a proper breakfast. Your brain needs fuel after a night’s sleep. Starting the day with a well-rounded breakfast will help you concentrate in class and retain the important information.
- If you have lunch on campus, all of our cafeterias have microwaves where you can heat up leftovers. If your budget allows, you can dine at one of our many restaurants offering a variety of healthy, balanced options.
- For dinner, you can enjoy cooking your favorite dishes. Don’t forget that cooking can be a relaxing experience. We suggest you prepare enough to have leftovers you can simply heat up the following days (for instance, you can cook enough rice for two days and just change the accompaniment).
2) Don’t fall into the trap of always eating the same things
The food pyramid can be a useful guide for eating a balanced diet.
- Beverages – Drink at least 1.5 liters a day, preferably beverages without added sugar.
- Fruits and vegetables – Eat five portions of fruits and vegetables each day, choosing seasonal produce whenever possible. That will give you the vitamins, antioxidants and fiber you need and will keep your digestion on track.
- Carbohydrates – Every meal should include healthy carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and corn; this can also include pulses like lentils, chickpeas and beans. Carbohydrates provide long-lasting energy as well as vitamins and minerals.
- Milk and other dairy products, meat, fish and eggs – These foods provide essential protein and calcium; be sure to eat enough every day. Choose lean protein sources like fish and pulses.
- Fats (butter, oil, cream, etc.) – You should consume up to one tablespoon per meal. Fats provide energy, vitamins and essential fatty acids.
- Sweets (candy, chocolate, cookies, etc.) – These foods don’t provide any essential nutrients and are often expensive. However, they can be enjoyed occasionally for a special treat.