So why should you care about healthy eating?
By eating a well balanced diet you are ensuring that you are getting the correct amount of nutrients that you need to stay fit and well. A diet that doesn't have the right balance of the nutrients protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals can lead to negative health symptoms. These include feeling tired, finding it hard to concentrate, feeling irritable and being more susceptible to colds. All of these things can mean you have to spend longer in bed resting and will negatively impact on your studies and your social life!
Sleep deprivation should by no means be encouraged as sleep is essential for your body and brain to work well. However as it is common for students to have late nights, either out partying or studying until the early hours to meet deadlines, a reduced amount of sleep can be the outcome. By sleeping less your body is not getting enough time to recharge itself which may also increase your chances of getting ill. So if those late nights cannot be avoided, the least can you do is help your body fight off any bugs by getting lots of vitamins and minerals from your diet.
Also, as I'm sure you're aware, eating too many calories (which are easy to consume through high fat or high sugary foods and drinks) can cause weight gain. Too much weight gain isn't good for you and may mean you need to buy new clothes. When you're a student on a budget the last thing you can afford to do is replace your whole wardrobe!
Some tips on how to budget your food costs and where to shop
As a tight budget is something most students have to deal with, it is useful to know what might help you to be able to eat a healthy diet on a restricted budget each day. To keep your costs down limit buying food from convenience stores which are more expensive than supermarkets, limit eating out and try not to eat too much fast food. Aside from the fact that fast food is unhealthy, fast food is actually quite expensive too, in comparison to what you can cook yourself. If you go food shopping to a supermarket once a week and make a shopping list before you go this will help you to only buy what you need and keep the cost down. Supermarkets have their own branded foods which are cheaper and not always available in local convenience stores. Plus cooking meals in large batches and then freezing them in portions means you will not have to cook every day. Instead you will have healthy and cheap ready meals to defrost and heat up whenever you need them!
Some ideas of what foods to buy and simple meals you could learn to make
Well, some fresh fruit and vegetables are a good start, and a couple of meat options (though don't necessarily go for the very cheapest as poorer quality meat will often contain more fat). Choose own branded and for mince go extra lean if you can afford it, whilst for smoked salmon, the trimmings will be a lot cheaper than large slices (you don’t need huge amounts of meat as protein is not required in large amounts). Eggs are also a good source of protein and a cheaper option. Lastly get wholegrain bread and rice as it’s healthiest.
As I have been working as a Chef throughout my studies, I have learnt which meals are quick and easy to make. So some of the healthy meals I find easy to make, which are also cheap and tasty include: jacket potatoes with baked beans or tuna and sweet corn; omelettes with tomatoes and mushrooms; creamy smoked salmon pasta, vegetable stir fry with rice or noodles and paella (a Spanish rice dish). Plus as a treat, making your own chicken burgers with potato wedges and salad isn't very difficult and is much healthier than the fried fast food you can buy from fast food outlets.