When I was a student, worrying and planning what I ate was never at the top of my priorities. I generally ate what I wanted, when I wanted. I have come to realise (perhaps a little too late) that fuelling your body properly is one of the keys to flourishing during your studies (both academically and otherwise). The more nutritious your diet is, the better your brain will perform and the happier you will feel overall.
Different foods affect the brain in different ways, so it is no exaggeration to say that your diet has a huge and direct impact on your mood. In other words, eat well to feel well!
There’s absolutely no harm in a McDonald’s or a pizza party every so often – after all they’re delicious. The important thing is to make sure they don’t become daily routines. The same goes for the food you cook at home, go easy on the chips, chicken nuggets, oven pizzas, and all the rest of that sort of stuff. Your body needs nutrients from fresh, unprocessed foods. My trick is to save the junk food for weekends and stay as healthy and fresh as possible during the week.
With that in mind, here are some foods to fill your basket when you go food-shopping.
Avocados contain vitamins and high amounts of fat (the kind that is actually good for you – not the kind that clogs your arteries). They also have high amounts of Vitamin K, which boosts your cognitive (brain) function. They can also lower your blood pressure, which leads to easier blood-flow around your body and to your brain!
There are so many ways to have avocados and they can be eaten with so many different food groups. My favourite way to eat them is sliced alongside poached or scrambled eggs on toast.
Omega-3 fatty acids have a lot of health benefits, and fish are full of these. Studies have shown that consuming high quantities of these fatty acids can encourage the release of serotonin – the chemical that makes you feel good!
Smoked mackerel and tinned sardines are probably the most budget-friendly types of fatty fish you can get. However there are plenty of other options if you want to treat yourself to something a bit more luxurious. My favourite meal is wild salmon cooked under the grill with a little teriyaki sauce, along with some stir-fried vegetables and noodles.
Most types of nuts contain vitamin E, (which helps to keep your brain working well. They can make a really good alternative to crisps and biscuits and they can even be added to your meals (such as a stir-fry or homemade smoothie) to help keep you fuller for longer.
One thing to bear in mind is that nuts are high in calories, some more than others. From my own experience, they’re certainly moreish, a couple of handfuls a day is a perfectly good amount to have.
Blueberries and blackcurrants
Blueberries and blackcurrants are superb sources of antioxidants and vitamin C, so you should eat lots of them. These antioxidants help your body and immune system. Research suggests that following a high-antioxidant diet can massively improve the performance and resilience of your body, which, of course, includes your brain.
They can go really well with a natural yogurt or can be included in a homemade smoothie.
It’s easier said than done to consistently buy and eat well. Balance is the key, try my weekday-healthy/weekend-a-little-less-healthy method, it gives you a great balance and you’ll notice a difference in how you feel pretty quickly.
I personally found that one of the biggest stumbling blocks with healthy eating is the price of good, fresh and natural food. It seems so much easier, cheaper and convenient to buy unhealthy processed food.
With that in mind, here are my top tips on how to save money on your food shop.
Plan ahead & choose cheaper brands
Most supermarkets will offer a basic range of products which are cheaper than the branded alternatives. It’s also important to plan your meals ahead of time, it makes it much easier to choose exactly what food you need to buy. If you just start throwing random things into your basket you’ll find it much harder to put together a meal when you get home.
Buy in bulk
It’s usually much cheaper to buy food in multi-packs rather than individually, which means that cooking several portions at once will work out cheaper. You could take it in turns to cook with your housemates/family or even make several meals and freeze some for another day.
Head to the cheaper supermarkets
Aldi on Market Street is my choice for the best discounted supermarket around. It is great for getting low-cost food, as well as drinks and household products.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry
This really is the golden rule and one I break pretty often! Make sure you’re not starving before stepping through the door of the supermarket. If you don’t, you’ll probably end up buying a load of unhealthy snacks and eating them the second you get home.
Thanks for reading! We really hope these tips help you eat well for less.
We’d love to hear what you think of these and let us know if there is anything we have missed!
*Remember if you have any allergies to check with your doctor about what you can and cannot eat