Follow Your Gut: Being Healthy on a Student Budget
Moving to university is the moment most young people start to cook for themselves. It's exciting having complete control over what you eat, but it can also be an overwhelming step into adulthood. Making sure you have enough food, keeping an eye on use-by dates, managing a shopping list, avoiding the temptation to just make the easiest microwave meals or making sure you don't live on takeaway…
The biggest problem students face is not eating healthily enough. Though we were all taught about food pyramids, how many of us take that information into our daily lives? During my first year of university, I went through stages of eating well, eating out and eating the same things on repeat. Now that I am confident in the kitchen and ready to throw myself into more interesting recipes, I plan to do things differently this year.
Recently someone I love was admitted to hospital due to severe abdominal pain caused by problems with their digestive health and infection of the lower intestine. Looking after yourself is important, more so when you are reminded of your own mortality.
There are many things you can do, even on a student budget, that can have great benefits on your digestive health- you just have to follow your gut.
Foods good for your Digestive Health:
Fruits such as Apples, Bananas and Oranges
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale
Nuts and Seeds
Garlic and Onions
Looks like a strange shopping list, but there are many ways you can incorporate these foods into your regular diet. For example, if you were making a basic spaghetti bolognese, a staple of student life, use wholemeal pasta, add some spinach and garlic or other bits of veg to suit your taste, and the meal has more immune-boosting properties!
Consuming lots of Vitamin C, foods high in protein and fibre, are also important for maintaining a balanced diet. However, there are some foods you should definitely avoid if you are trying to improve your digestive health:
Your Gut is telling you NO to these foods:
Milk or white chocolate
Cheese and Cream
I know most of that list are regulars in a student diet - and that is okay!! I won’t pretend to be a pillar of health myself, I certainly indulge in sweets, coke and a fat greasy pizza, but doing that every day isn’t recommended!
The best way to manage your diet at university is to meal plan. At the start of each week plan which meals you are going to make, go to the shops and grab supplies, and stick to it!
How to meal plan:
Get a meal planner or make one
Look up recipes you are interested in making this week
Check prices for certain foods online
Make sure your list of meal ideas does not go over your food budget for the week
Write down what meal you will make on what day
Make a shopping list
Go shopping and stick to your list!
This summer I have been working on my own recipe book, which pages dedicated to my favourite recipes, guides to healthy eating, and even some recipes for cocktails! Having all I need in one place makes meal planning much easier.
Recipes full of vegetables, protein and fibre are best. My favourite is a simple Chilli Con Carne, which I am being nice enough to share with you below:
Chloe’s Chilli Con Carne
Costs no more than £5
500g beef mince
1 large onion
1 red pepper
1 tin of kidney beans
1 tin of baked beans
1 sachet of chilli mix or 1 tsp of chilli powder
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
A handful of spinach
250g of brown rice
Prepare your vegetables by rinsing them under cold water.
Chop the onion into small uniform pieces.
Slice the red pepper into squares, discarding all seeds and the core.
Drain the liquid from the tin of kidney beans and place it on one side.
Preheat a saucepan of water.
Pour some olive oil into a frying pan.
Fry the onion until slightly brown.
Add the rice to the saucepan once the water has begun to bubble, stirring consistently to avoid the rice sticking into clumps.
Add the 500g of mince to the frying pan, breaking it up and spreading it across the full width of the pan.
Once the mince is brown, add the chopped tomatoes, red pepper, baked beans, kidney beans, spinach and chilli mix or powder.
Stir it all together.
Once everything is mixed and cooked, including the rice, turn off the heat.
Now, I am no Gordon Ramsey, but I can guarantee that this Chilli will taste amazing.