We know that a combination of a balanced diet and frequent exercise is essential for a healthy mind and body. But what happens when you find yourself living away from home for the first time, you can't cook and you've got a limited food budget?
Beginning College life is an exciting time but it can put a strain on your mental and physical well-being as well as your bank balance. Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help keep you feeling and looking good – and it doesn't have to be expensive. Remember, good nutrition is the cornerstone of good health.
If you are in self-catering accommodation it is very important to pay attention to your diet at this most vital stage of you life. The following points will serve useful:
- Buy and prepare your own food. It will be much cheaper and healthier than relying on ready-made, convenience foods.
- Plan meals and make a shopping list so you don't overspend.
- While at the supermarket, stock up on the five main food groups:
Carbohydrate (dried pasta, potatoes, rice, bread, cereal)
Dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt)
Protein (meat, eggs, fish, baked beans and lentils)
Fruit and vegetables
Fats and oils
- Don't forget that while alcohol does not contribute to nutrient intake, it does contribute to your total calorie intake.
- Always have something to eat before drinking and pace your drinking by alternating with a non-alcoholic drink eg. fruit juice, soft mineral or even a sparkling water.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week. Most colleges and universities have a variety of sports clubs you can join. As well as getting exercise you will meet lots of new friends.
Information and support on healthy eating and healthy weight management is available on campus from the Health Promotion Service.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so don't skip it! Kick start your day with a glass or carton of milk and a piece of fruit or a cereal bar and a drink of natural fruit juice.
Boost your energy stores at lunch time with a light meal based on bread/pasta/rice such as soup and a roll; a filled roll; a toasted sandwich; pasta or pizza. Finish off with fruit and/or yoghurt rather than crisps and chocolate.
Re-charge your batteries after a long day in college and before the nightlife begins by enjoying a healthy dinner. A meal is always more enjoyable when eaten with friends so invite a few over.
Of course, if you feel peckish during the morning and afternoon don't always reach for chocolate or crisps. Try healthy alternatives such as fruit or popcorn instead.
Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute: www.indi.ie
Bord Bia – Irish food Board: www.bordbia.ie
Public Health Agency, NI: www.enjoyhealthyeating.info
101+ Square Meals cookbook: www.mabs.ie/publications/Resaources%20for%20education/101_Sq_Meals.pdf