Attention students – you CAN stay healthy at uni!

It’s the start  of a new term, and for some of you, that means a new university, new college and moving away from home. It’s a busy time of year and you’ll be all-over the place, meeting new people, finding your way around and enjoying the fun times that university brings – there’s Freshers week to enjoy for a start! While food is probably not the first thing on your mind, you need to think about how you’re going to feed yourself while you’re away from home. By the way, this blog post isn’t just for university students (it’s just coincidental that I’m writing it at the start of term!), I think its a pretty good way to stay healthy throughout life too – I just know how tough it is to get through uni without adding a stone or two in weight, so a helping hand at the beginning might good for all new students too!

Let me start by saying that I’m happy if you fancy having a cheeseburger for dinner every night – go right ahead. I did when I started uni and I loved it! Yes, those deep-fried onion bhajis covered in creamy garlic sauce from the takeaway outside the Students’ Union were immense. And the first pizza place I discovered on my first night out became my regular hang-out for 3 years.  And during my final year, I was introduced to chips, with melted cheese, and gravy. Heaven. I don’t think I need to tell you (based on my reminiscing above!), but I’m going to anyway… I gained loads of weight over those years as a student. And it took me a couple of years to get rid of it afterwards, eek. Clearly, I’m not here to ‘preach’ healthy eating to you – I’m not a parent and I won’t be anytime soon but I do want to share some tips from an older student 😉 about how to enjoy eating out with your friends without piling on the pounds.  I know it can be tough to make healthy choices when you’re eating out but you’ll probably be doing lots of this as you socialise with your new college buddies and grab a snack between lectures. Plus, it’s hard to choose a fruit salad when all your friends are reaching for the chocolate cake! So many of the nicest dishes are smothered in cheese, deep fried, floating in a creamy sauce or covered in chocolate – and probably account for the Freshers’ bulge weight gain myth – but don’t despair! You can stick to your health-kick throughout the Autumn term and head home to your family for the Winter holidays without looking like a young Schmidt from New Girl. And here’s how:

tamagotchi life healthy beef sub sandwich

Healthy beef sub sandwich – Family

  1. Choose the green stuff: Okay, it might be boring, but if there’s an option to swap your chips for a side of salad or plate of vegetables – do it! No-one’s going to make you eat your greens now that you’re living away from home, but if you want to stay healthy, you’re going to have to make yourself!
  2. By the way; adding butter, sauces or dressing to your so-called healthy choices will just add the fat right back on – so only choose vinegar-based dressings or herbs. There’s no point choosing a salad if you’re going to cover it in creamy ranch dressing or feta cheese and olive oil!
  3. Eating out at a steak place or pub? Watch out for those side dishes and sauces – just say no to smothering and those deep fried onion rings! Choose a baked potato instead of chips and keep that salad dressing-free. You’ll save around 800 calories by forgoing that portion of fries and the steak itself is a pretty healthy option – just cut off any fat and leave it on your plate!
  4. Let’s talk saucy: If your meat is floating in a sauce, make sure it’s not a creamy sauce – if it’s pale-coloured and tastes like heaven, it’s probably full of fat (such a shame!). You can still have a nice saucy dish, but choose a tomato-based sauce such as a jalfrezi rather than korma, and add vegetables wherever you can.
  5. Sandwiches are not all bad, so if you’re grabbing a sub between lectures, choose lean meat, such as chicken or turkey breast, ham or lean sliced beef, skip the cheese, load up at the salad bar and only add clear sauces (not those cheeky creamy ones!) and mustards.
  6. And finally, how hungry are you really? Do you need a side dish, or will your main meal be enough? And are you secretly saving space for a dessert? Why don’t you enjoy extra rice and veg rather than scoffing a big slice of cheesecake at the end of the meal?!

I hope my tips have been useful and really, I’ve only learnt all this since needing to lose the weight! I know how hard it is to maintain a healthy weight when you’re away from home and having a great time socialising with your new friends – I gained loads of weight when I went away to university and if only I’d thought twice about what I was putting into my mouth all throughout college, perhaps I could have avoided looking like a super-size version of myself in my graduation photos! Anyway, it’s up to you how you feed yourself now and the tips above are only a starting point for heading towards a healthy lifestyle – I eat this way most of time, but of course, it’s nice to have some chocolate treats now and again! And really, that’s what the holidays are for haha! My final piece of advice is think to yourself “do I really want it?” and if you do – go for it! But if you’re not really hungry, or can go without that packet of crisps, you’ll feel proud that you’re taking your eating choices into your own hands and no-one can accuse you of giving in to Freshers’ bulge!  Let me know how you get on and if you’ve been a student yourself, what are your experiences? Leave me a comment below 🙂

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in Lifestyle Promotion Studies and is trained in Personal Money Management. She loves to ‘get the look for less’ so regularly shares thrifty-living advice, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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