What’s in your fridge? The Recipe for Success?

Women feel like they have to do it all. But when you’re  rushed off your feet juggling studies and family life, is it any wonder that you feel over-worked and exhausted. The right diet can be vital in giving  you enough energy to run around after the little one, and enough brainpower for that pile of reading in the corner. Whilst you’ll no doubt be worrying over how best to feed your child, making sure they get a balanced nutritious diet; remember its important that you look after yourself too. Eating well is important; to give you that boost you need to look after your baby, and get those good grades.

Balancing the demands or raising  family, running a home and the pressures of study is more than a full time job; its three! So, with exam season looming with extra stress on top of an already busy schedule; student parents are running the risk of wearing themselves out completely. Do you constantly crave coffee or sugary snacks for a pick me up? Do you find it hard to concentrate and stay focused on your work? Would you be shocked to find that it may have something to do with your diet?

According to Charlotte Stirling-Reed,  Registered Public Health Nutritionist at the Association of Nutrition, “food gives us energy and it is this energy that allows us to perform everyday tasks and be alert and awake during the day. Of course other elements also play a part such as sleep and hormones but diet can have a significant impact on energy levels.” A diet of junk food and too much sugar can lead to tiredness.  Sugary snacks such as fizzy pop, cakes and sweets will give you an instant burst of energy, but as sugar is quickly processed through your body, your blood sugar levels will quickly fall, along with the energy surge.  This process actually causes your body to crave more sugar and so a vicious circle begins. 

With students unwilling to sacrifice crucial revision time to cook; it seems inevitable that student diets at this time will include a substantial amount of ‘fast’ foods. According to NHS statistics collated in 2010, 16-24 year olds are the least likely to eat the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day.

Many students blame low budgets, convenience and peer pressure for why their diets tend to be the poorest of any social group. Due to its accessibility and increasingly low prices, fast food would appear to be the most favoured option for students with pizza, chips and pasta most regular on the student menu.

I understand; coming to the end of the academic year, my bank balance is looking particularly starved. “Expensive food” such as fresh fruit and certainly meat and fish fell by the wayside a long time ago. I have become involuntarily vegetarian!  Yet, like many other students I may be missing out on many key minerals such as zinc and iron to keep me healthy and focused on my studies.

Charlotte Stirling-Reed told Student Parents, “the nutrients we obtain from foods are also essential for good health. Not eating the right types and amounts of food can have a number of negative health effects including; obesity, overweight, tooth decay, poor concentration, and increase the risk of a whole array of medical conditions.”

Iron deficiency is a common nutritional deficiency in students.  A lack of iron can lead to a person developing anaemia, particularly common in women who experience heavy periods and during pregnancy. Common symptoms include tiredness, generally feeling lethargic and suffers may have a pale complexion, suffer from nail weakness or mouth ulcers. It can be best remedied with iron or B12 supplements, and watching your diet, making sure to include iron rich foods such as meat, green vegetables, fish, wholegrains and pulses. Vitamin C is known to help with the absorption of iron, so boost your levels by incorporating citrus fruit and leafy greens into your diet. On the other hand tea and coffee has the adverse effect.

No doubt  many of us will be stocking up on the coffee and energy drinks for those long nights or revision on the horizon! But too much caffeine can lead to dehydration which is bad news for concentration, the very think you need most! So make sure to try and drink plenty of water if you can.

Charlotte advises; “make sure you eat regularly, 3 meals and 2-3 small healthy snacks will help to get you through the day, keep energy and concentration levels up and make sure you are getting all the right nutrients. It is so important that students make sure they are eating well and not skipping mealtimes as not eating enough will result in a lack of energy, tiredness and no motivation in the long run.”

So here are some top diet tips to keep you in tip-top conditions:-

What to avoid!

● Sweeteners

● Sugar

● Trans fats

● Processed meats (sausages, bacon, packaged ham etc)

● Alcohol

● Fizzy drinks

● Baked goods bought from shops (cakes, muffins and pastries etc)

Here’s what to eat to keep you concentrating and keep those energy levels up:

Energy-boosting foods

● Fruits and vegetables

● Chicken, beef, lamb, pork and turkey.

● Salmon and canned sardines

● Nuts

GreenBeanLondon is a website that works to promote healthy and ethical eating in London. The Editor, Charlotte Hawkins says, “It’s so easy to always choose the unhealthy option when you’re grabbing food between lectures, but if you can find time to prepare in advance, soup is a really healthy and cheap option to have for lunch. This butternut squash soup is packed full of vegetables and it costs only around £2.50 for all the ingredients to make a batch that’ll last you all week!”

Butternut Squash Soup: The Recipe

2 tablespoons margarine
1 onion
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
1 potato
1 butternut squash
1 litre vegetable stock
Handful of chili powder

  1. Chop up the veg into chunks.
  2. Melt the margarine in a large saucepan and fry all the veg for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  3. Pour in enough of the stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil.
  4. Then reduce the heat, put a lid on the pan and simmer 40 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
  5. Transfer it all to a blender, and blend until smooth.
  6. Return it to the pan and mix in any remaining stock to attain desired consistency. Add a liberal sprinkling of chili powder and season to taste.

This soup freezes well so if you have a large enough saucepan it may be worth doubling the quantity and it’ll last you for several servings. It’s low calorie too!

Check out their website for more tips on healthy eating.

Follow the links below for recommended recipes that are quick, easy, cheap and most importantly healthy!

Robyn

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