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What you eat affects your body in many different ways. Different kinds of foods have the power to make our bodies well (or sometimes unwell!) But did you know that the foods you eat can also affect your mood? Research has unearthed a number of different foods that can help you if you’re feeling depressed; in fact, certain foods can also help you to prevent the onset of depression.

In this article we shall discuss 5 foods that can help improve your mood and get you feeling better.

1. Brazil nuts

Did you know that low levels of the mineral selenium have been linked to increased rates of depression, irritability, anxiety, and tiredness? This where Brazil nuts can help. They are one of the best naturally occurring sources of selenium. Experts recommend having them as a mid-morning snack. As far as the quantity is concerned, three Brazil nuts are all you need to get your recommended daily requirement of selenium.

2. Oats

Oats also contain selenium, and have the added advantage of increasing your mood and energy levels. This is because they have a low glycemic index (GI) – foods with a low GI are metabolised gradually and they slowly release energy into the bloodstream, which keeps overall blood sugar levels stable. This is preferable to high glycemic foods which will provide you with a quick rush of energy but later leave you irritable. Half a cup of porridge made with oats is a great breakfast to start your day. You can add honey and almonds for extra pep!

3. Bananas

Consuming one or two bananas can do wonders for your mood and even health. After all, bananas are packed with an amazing array of nutrients. Among them, tryptophan, carbs and vitamin B6 play a role in improving your mood. The carbs help the brain in absorbing tryptophan which is then converted into serotonin with the help of vitamin B6. Serotonin is a hormone that boosts your mood and also helps you sleep better.

4. Lentils

Lentils are complex carbohydrates which means that, like bananas, they will boost the production of serotonin in the brain. This leads to less anxiety and a calmer state of mind. Lentils are also a good source of folate; folate deficiency has been linked to states of depression and mania. Lentils are rich in iron, which gives your energy levels a boost. All in all, half a cup of lentils in a day will keep you happy. Consider adding them to your soups or stews.

5. Dark Chocolate 

You may have noticed that people tend to reach for a bar of chocolate whenever their mood is low – and there is a reason for it. Eating dark chocolate contributes to your well being in a number of ways  and can give a boost to your mood too. A study conducted in Switzerland discovered that consuming a small portion of dark chocolate (1.4 ounces of it, to be exact) every day for two weeks reduced stress hormones, including cortisol, in people who were highly stressed. But, of course, you need to stick to the quantity mentioned to get the benefits. Too much chocolate will lead to weight gain and that is not going to be great for your mood!

This article was contributed by guest author Tanya Sen.



Image by 089photoshootings, pixabay.com

Some students feel like they have to pull off some kind of culinary alchemy on a shoestring budget. Others tend to come up with a boatload of excuses, including lack of time. Well, you should know that eating habits have a great impact on your academic performance. They can make your systems run like clockwork and keep your mood soaring high. The key to harnessing the power of a wholesome diet is to know its staples; its main building blocks. With that in mind, you can go ahead prepare meals that are mouthwatering and healthy at the same time.

Time to step up

Like it or not, food has a major role to play in your student life. It affects everything from mood and confidence to cognitive abilities and overall health, supplying your body with fuel and energy. Studies show that students who eat healthily are less likely to fail literacy and other tests.  They can avoid running out of steam as well as the peaks and valleys of energy throughout the day. So, there are no excuses!

There are numerous money- and time-saving tips to check out, but the real problem is often that students’ cooking environments are uninspiring, to say the least. It pays off to invest in your kitchen, as cooking can become a thrilling adventure instead of a chore. To boost the functionality, comfort, and visual appeal of the area, consider appliances such as a quality Bosch microwave and high-grade cookware.

In nutritious balance

You have probably heard about the importance of balanced meals, but what does that really mean? Well, first off, fruits and vegetables are the mainstay of healthy nutrition; the go-to sources of vitamins, fiber, minerals, and carbohydrates. Hence, they should compose at least half of your daily menu. A rainbow-colored food palette does the trick. Think in terms of apples, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, lentils, etc.

Let us start gathering nutrient pieces with a protein, the cornerstone of a healthy diet. To get ample lean protein, introduce something like chicken or turkey. Red meat with fat trimmed off is particularly good, so have an occasional pork chop or beef cut. In case you are a vegetarian or simply prefer not to consume meat, opt for non-animal sources such as quinoa, meat seeds, tofu, and beans.

Furthermore, include dairy products to get your share of lactose, lean protein, calcium, and other vital nutrients. A cup of low-fat milk or yogurt is thus an excellent addition to your breakfast. Strive to consume whole grains that are a natural source of fiber, magnesium, copper, selenium, protein, vitamin B, zinc, iron, etc. You will not only get necessary nutrients, but also keep your blood sugar in check.

Last but not least, fat, despite its reputation, is not to be overlooked either. In fact, healthy fats are critical to the normal functioning of the body. Some of the best foods in this regard are dark chocolate, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, and chia seed. On the other hand, steer away from the saturated and trans fats one typically finds in junk and processed food.

Avoid the sugary grave

Students, like all mortals, need to include various liquids in their diets. Coffee is seen as a natural ally, but going overboard is not advisable, especially when it comes to sugars and creamers. Also, beware of sugary snacks and drinks. Commercial juices and sodas are loaded with sugar and offer zero nutrients. Stick to organic and sugar-free alternatives. Likewise, healthy snacks in the league of fruits and nuts must be prioritized over their sugar-laden counterparts.

An initial sugar high is simply not worth it as the effects quickly wear off and leave you feeling tired and craving more. Besides, the long-term consequences are dire for your body. Remember that the best diets are nutrient-packed, varied, and also flavorsome. So, do not shy away from culinary experiments. Throw some herbs, exotic delicacies, and spices into the mix. Implement new dishes and meals to prevent appetite loss and tackle academic challenges with flying colors.

The best of both worlds

Scientists have identified a strong link between nutrition and academic performance. In light of the mounting evidence, it is of the utmost importance to strike a fine dietary balance to maximize health gains. Get into the art of planning and figure out meals that are both wholesome and cater to your inner hedonist. Ensure the proper functioning of your body and brain, feel motivated, and keep those engines roaring towards success.

This article was contributed by guest author Lana Hawkins.

Image by Ali Inay, unsplash.com

A student life is not easy these days. The pressure of studies and never-ending financial crises are dealt with by the majority of students, yet we swallow our shortcomings and try to look cool. It’s quite normal to see students pack up after class to get to a part-time job.

Sometimes, we work 4-5 hours a day in order to make up for some of the expenses. After a long, tiring day, the last thing we want to do is prepare dinner.

So, today, we are going to discuss a few healthy recipes that can be prepared in a short amount of time (some even in 10 minutes).

1. Beans on Toast

This is not just healthy, but cheap as well. You can prepare it well within 10 minutes and it also tastes good (if you love beans). Consider adding tomatoes, cheddar cheese (grated), or pepper to make it more flavourful. Some people boil the beans first to make a thick sauce and caramelize the beans. It is up to you to decide which version you want to go with.

2. Omelette

Most students are big fans of omelettes. It’s an easy dish to prepare and it sure is healthy. Now, what type of omelette you want to prepare depends on your preferences. Omelettes are prepared differently in different parts of the world, so you can make your favorite version. Or, just follow the following steps and try out this one:.

  1. Crack two eggs and mix them well with two tbsp. of milk.
  2. Add some salt and pepper.
  3. Place a red copper pan on the stove, and heat some butter on it. Then add the egg mixture.
  4. Add onions, mushrooms, ham, tomatoes or any other ingredients of your choice.
  5. Let the omelette heat up for 2-3 minutes, then flip it.
  6. Sprinkle some cheese on top of the omelette and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
  7. Fold the omelette in half, and enjoy your dinner!

3. Soup

If you are looking for a light and healthy option for dinner, go for soup. You can buy cans or cartons of soup, but I recommend you cook it yourself. It will cost less than those cans and cartons, and it will be a lot healthier. French Onion Soup, for example, is full of flavor:

  1. Chop ½ kg of onions.
  2. Take pot and add some butter in it. Melt the butter on low heat and add the chopped onions.
  3. Increase the heat and keep cooking until you see the onions becoming sticky and caramelized.
  4. Add 1.2 liters of chicken stock or beef stock, cooking until it starts boiling.
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. If you want, toast some baguette bread and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle grated cheese and bake it in the oven for a few minutes until the bread is golden.
  7. Enjoy your soup with toast on top.

4. Jacket Potato

If you have a microwave in your kitchen, you’ll want to use it for jacket potatoes. This is one dish on the list that will take more than an hour to prepare, so if you can hold your starvation for an hour, go ahead with this recipe.

  1. Wash the potatoes and prick them with a fork.
  2. Rub salt on the potatoes.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 220C and place the potatoes in it. Cook the potatoes for about an hour or until the skin becomes crispy.
  4. Cut open the potatoes and add your favorite fillings – cheese, cottage cheese, coleslaw, beans or sour cream. Consider topping with bacon and green onion.

5. Mushroom Risotto

Did you know that risotto is also an easy dish to make? There is no obvious list of ingredients, so you can choose whatever you want, from chicken to prawns or even vegetables.

  1. Chop one onion and some mushrooms. Crush one garlic clove as well.
  2. Take a saucepan and melt some butter in it on medium heat. Add the onions and cook them until they become translucent.
  3. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Turn up the heat a bit and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Take 150 grams of risotto rice, put it in the pan, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add 600 ml of vegetable stock so the rice can be properly cooked. Stir the pan, scraping the bottom, until the liquid evaporates.
  6. Take the pan off the heat, add some salt and pepper. For the final touch, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top.

This article was contributed by guest author Monica.

Image by Mira Bozhko, unsplash.com

In the view of constantly increasing obesity and general lack of time in everyday life, many people have already turned to consuming healthy food and natural snacks, which is now a popular trend. You’ve probably heard of that dietary rule that eating after 8 o’clock in the evening could have a negative impact on your weight. This is only partially true! What really matters is what you eat. No one can resist snacking on something tasty while watching a movie, comfortably seated in their bed, but you have to be aware that it may create consequences. While our attention is focused on the film, we do not feel that we are full and we don’t stop eating. These are foods that you can nibble on for hours which are healthy and do not affect your overall health.


According to current experts in nutrition, nuts are great for us because they do not increase our weight like processed snacks, and they are full of unsaturated fats that prevent blood clotting and maintain a normal heart rhythm. Nuts also give a feeling of satiety and do not cause a rise in blood sugar. Walnuts are rich in antioxidants and are a great night time snack. Since they are full of fiber, they will help you feel satiated longer and prevent an empty stomach from calling you to walk to the fridge in the middle of the night. These nut snacks also contain magnesium, protein, potassium, copper and vitamin E, which are great for your skin, helping it stay soft. A great advantage is that you can put them in your bag for a quick and easy, healthy snack. So, instead of sweets – use nuts.


Popcorn is a great choice if you are looking for something salty at night. Not only is it a good source of complex carbohydrates, popcorn also has few calories. Moreover, due to the fact that it is rich in fats, you will not feel bloated in the morning, nor will your stomach hurt. In addition to being a favourite snack, popcorn is good for your health. Of course, be sure to eat the butter and cheese free versions – and go easy on the salt.

Whole grains

As well as milk, cereals are rich in carbohydrates, which help the increase of the level of tryptophan in your blood (acids which stimulate the production of serotonin). Pure proteins are not only the cornerstone of the muscles, but will also maintain a longer feeling of satiety without expanding your waist. Whole grains have fewer calories than fatty and carbohydrate-rich foods. But be careful, because processed carbohydrates, such as pasta, chips and white bread, cause a jump in blood sugar levels, which can make your sleep less restful. Take, for example, oatmeal, high-fiber cereals or whole grain toast. You can search online for many recipes and delicious meals which contain whole grains. Simple, easy and healthy.

Dried fruits

Given that they are high calorie foods, dried fruits should be eaten because they provide additional energy for daily activities. Prunes are rich in fibers and sorbitol, and therefore have a greater laxative effect than fresh plums. They represent the real little treasure of potassium, vitamins C and K. Dried apricots are recommended for those who are physically active because they contain huge amounts of potassium, which is important for normal muscle. Figs contain important vitamins from the B group, vitamin C and beta-carotene, and contains calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and copper. Raisins are a healthy and tasty source of natural sugar, so they can always be used to give you that sweet fix. They are also rich in calcium and iron. Dried bananas and pineapples are rich in magnesium, which is why they are great fighters against stress.

Dark chocolate

When the desire for sweets prevails, it is difficult to satisfy it with anything other than chocolate. Take care in choosing this kind of delicacy. Five cubes of top quality dark chocolate with less than 100 calories are just fine; and they do have other health benefits. Studies suggest that dark chocolate can help to lower blood pressure and protect you against heart disease and stroke, improve mental ability, help with chronic fatigue and even raise your libido. It is sweet, tasty and juicy, making it an excellent choice for a snack. It helps in the treatment of anaemia, fatigue, arthritis and rheumatism.

Nature has it all. You just have to listen to it carefully and it will help you. Enjoy these healthy snacks!

This article was contributed by guest author Vanessa Davis.

Image by Andy Chilton, unsplash.com

Image by Andy Chilton, unsplash.com

Healthy food is one of the most essential elements for our sustenance. But given today’s fast paced life, little time is left to cook. And for students who are studying abroad, cooking something fancy becomes a far-fetched dream. Between costly restaurants and different varieties of food, sometimes you don’t get what you’re used to eating.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. You may have never cooked a day in your life, but now you need to. It shouldn’t be a daunting experience – once your cooked food tastes good, you gain confidence and can be inspired to try new healthy recipes.

The most important thing to keep in mind while starting to cook is buying the right ingredients. Prepare a list of items you’ll require for the week to help you save money and effort. Try not to buy crisps, biscuits, wafers and ready to eat food items – take advantage of your time abroad to experiment with putting meals together. Here are a few easy, delicious recipes you can try:

• Pasta with Salmon – Buy packs of raw salmon and freeze them. Cook pasta based on the package instructions. In the meantime, add a bunch of chopped vegetables and pieces of salmon to preheated olive oil. Add whipping cream, some cheese, and chopped basil leaves to it. Drain the pasta, and mix everything together.

• Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Potatoes – Have a craving for a home-cooked meal? Boil lamb or beef pieces, and mix them with a granular gravy (handy at any supermarket). Peel and 5-6 potatoes, then mash them evenly while adding butter. Add the meat mixture to your baking dish, with a subsequent layer of mashed potatoes. Grate some cheese on top and add a few basil leaves to finish it off. Preheat the oven, then bake your dish for 15-20 minutes.

• Rosemary Roast Chicken – Buy a small chicken and grease it nicely with olive oil. Chop up a few potatoes and onions. Preheat the oven and place the chicken in a casserole dish. Add the potatoes, onions and some rosemary to it. Feel free to chop up a few other vegetables like carrots and celery with it. Cover the entire dish with foil paper and cook for about 1 hour. Remove the foil and cook again for 30 minutes in order to make the outer surface brown.

• Grilled Beans on Toast – Just open the can, pour it into a baking dish and heat it in the oven with some cheese. Once grilled, serve it with toast or garlic bread.

• Omelette – Add any number and any variety of vegetable to beaten eggs along with onions, tomatoes, salt, pepper and a bit of milk. One the mixture is prepared, pour it into your buttered pan. Flip it over once the bottom is cooked, then add some cheese. Make some toast on the side for a robust breakfast.

• Fried Rice – Cook up some finely chopped vegetables and make some scrambled eggs. Once your rice is cooked, mix them together and fry it in a wok. Add some soya sauce to it for a nice flavor boost.

• Mexican Tacos – Supermarkets sell baked corn tacos or tortillas. Fry up some beef or chicken, and add vegetables and herbs. When you’re putting it together, top it with salsa and cheese.

This article was contributed by guest author Priyanka Chowdary.

Image by Jamaila Brinkley, Flickr

Image by Jamaila Brinkley, Flickr

Life is always go, go, go for college and university students. Between classes, extracurriculars, homework, and socializing, healthy eating is often pushed to the wayside. It is much easier to grab a quick snack, or to buy a meal while out of the house. This is especially true during busy periods such as midterms and exams.

However, healthy eating is extremely important for students. Taking the time to improve your eating habits will make you feel better, as well as improve your performance in many areas of your life, scholastic or otherwise. Meal planning is a simple strategy that can help save you time grocery shopping and cooking, and make healthy eating much easier. Here are some tips to assist you with your personal meal planning:

  1. Get inspired – Spending some time each week looking for new recipes, or finding old favourites, is a good way to get yourself motivated to cook. There are many resources available to help you find recipes: cookbooks, food blogs, Pinterest, and recipe apps are all great places to start. These resources offer a variety of recipes for different preferences and diet types.

  3. Don’t overwhelm yourself – Don’t go overboard on the number of recipes you plan to cook in a week. This is very easy to do, especially if you are just cooking for yourself. You’re likely to have leftovers that will last you for a few meals after cooking. Over-planning will leave you with excess ingredients, which is wasteful and costly.

  5. Choose healthy meals – Planning out your healthy meals will make clean eating that much easier and practical.

  7. Choose a favourite meal each week – Having a favourite recipe in your meal plan will make you excited to cook your meals for the week. It acts as a reward for choosing healthy meals, and for cooking.

  9. Make a grocery list – Having a list will make your trips to the grocery store much more efficient, as you can grab what you need, and get out as quickly as possible. It saves you time meandering through the aisles, contemplating what to purchase. It will help you save money as well, since you will avoid buying unneeded ingredients.

  11. Set time aside – Take a few hours on the weekend, or in the evening to prepare certain components of your meals. For example, you can cook your meat, chop your veggies, or make sauces. This will shorten cooking time throughout the rest of the week.

  13. Assign theme nights – Assigning certain types of meals to specific nights of the week makes meal planning easier and more fun since you’ll already have a framework of what recipes to choose. Monday can be Indian, Tuesday can be for tacos, Wednesdays for salads, etc.

  15. Make enough for leftovers – If you plan to have enough food for leftovers, it often means you will only have to cook once a day. You can also freeze leftovers for future meals on especially busy days.

Meal planning requires some time to execute properly, but will save you time and money in the long run, and is ultimately a rewarding process. Happy cooking!


Image by JD Caitlin Childs, Flickr

Image by JD Caitlin Childs, Flickr

2015 has just begun. As part of your New Year’s resolution, you may have promised yourself to have an even better year than the last. Now, the question is how. And it’s not hard! All it comes down to is health and happiness.

Having good health isn’t complicated. You don’t need to overexert yourself at the gym or become a vegetarian. Being happy doesn’t have to involve winning the lottery either. There are a few steps to enjoying the year ahead, and they are simple to follow. Here’s how to start:

  • Meditate. Not only is meditation relaxing, but it also lowers blood pressure. It increases the production of serotonin, a chemical that improves mood balance. Simply close your eyes and breathe, and you will start feeling the benefits. You may wish to get a short meditation guide for your computer or phone.

  • Work out. Working out releases endorphins in the body, which reduces stress levels. It goes without saying that exercise improves one’s self-confidence, due to pride in athletic abilities. Let’s not forget that exercise prevents cardiovascular disease. 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity are recommended per week, or 1.25 hours of vigorous activity. I know you’re likely saying “ugh” at this point, but it could really be as simple as joining a sports team or completing a 10-minute routine every morning.

  • Set a few goals for yourself. One of the keys to being happy is being productive and successful. Set a few small goals for yourself throughout the year. You will be amazed at the feeling of delight once you achieve them.

  • Eat healthy. Eating the right foods has been proven to improve your mood. A new European study concludes that eating junk food regularly increases one’s risk of depression by 51%. Eating junk food and fast food once in a while shouldn’t dampen your spirits, though. Try eating in more, limiting sweets, and be conscious of the unhealthy snacks you do ingest.

  • Surround yourself with positive people. The key to being happy is being positive. A positive attitude will get you through almost any situation. It’s important that your social circle is as positive as you are. You don’t want to be brought down by Debbie Downers.

Having a healthy and happy 2015 is all based on your mindset. You don’t have to spend tons of money to be happy or become a professional athlete to be healthy. All it comes down to is accomplishing a few realistic goals, eating healthy, exercising, meditating and having a positive group of friends. Happy 2015!

Image by Adelle & Justin, Flickr

Image by Adelle & Justin, Flickr

Being a hungry student during exam period is hard – from personal experience I know the struggle: do I study, sleep, or eat? It’s also difficult to find the motivation to cook.

To maximize your mealtimes, include as much protein and complex carbohydrates as possible in your meal. While refined carbs (white bread) and sugars can be cheaper, they will not keep you satisfied for long, and you’ll either have to interrupt study time to eat again, or go to sleep hungry. Invest in your exam period meals. If you’re already paying a whopping tuition, instead of ordering in fast food, underwrite your existing investment by spending a couple bucks more on healthy alternatives, which will enhance your brain power and GPA. A protein-packed meal could give you the burst of energy needed to finish your final paper, or pull a final all-nighter.

Meat is the most obvious, easiest way to ingest protein. Note that protein can also be found in other foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, etc. I’ve thrown in some vegetarian options for inclusivity, but all recipes below, including the vegetarian ones, contain at least one serving of protein.

Here are several healthy, protein-packed recipes you can cook that are designed to deliver a protein punch for a study time crunch. In case you’d like to make substitutions, the main protein component of each recipe is italicized:

Cook with Protein:

Nutty fruit parfait

A variety of fruit
2 tablespoons walnuts and almonds, chopped
1 cup of yogurt (Greek yogurt is preferable)
1/3rd box of bran cereal

Put the nuts in a plastic Ziplock bag. Lay the bag of nuts flat, and using a blunt object (such as a mug or textbook) carefully crush the nuts without ripping the bag. Cut fruit into bite-sized pieces. Scoop one layer of yogurt into bowl. Layer fruit on top. Pour cereal and nuts on top. Repeat: yogurt, fruit, yogurt, cereal, nuts. End with fruit.


1 banana
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 slice whole wheat bread

Toast bread if desired, spread peanut butter on top. Slice banana onto bread.

Pita Pizza

1 whole wheat pita
2/3rd cup marinara sauce
1 ounce cheddar cheese
2 ounces mozzarella
2 slices salami (or equivalent amount of pepperoni, chicken, any meat)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread marinara on pita, lay or grate cheese on top. Lay slices of salami on top. Bake until cheese is melted.

Tomato Spaghetti Carbonara

1 ½ cups spaghetti
½ cup marinara sauce
¼ cup parmesan, or any cheese
2 eggs

Boil water in a medium pot, follow instructions on pasta box. Drain pasta and return it back to the pot. Crack both eggs into the hot pasta and toss until the egg is worked into the pasta, and cooked by the residual heat. Stir in marinara sauce and parmesan.

Homemade Mac & Cheese

1 ½ cup pasta (whole wheat preferable)
1 can of tuna
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup skim milk
3 ounces cheddar, grated
Pinch of salt and pepper

Boil water in a medium pot, follow instructions on pasta box. Drain pasta when it is fully cooked, and return to the hot pot. Add butter, flour, milk, cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.

Chicken Nuggets

*1 uncooked chicken breast
1 egg
2 slices white bread
Salt and pepper

*Always handle raw meat with great caution. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water before and after handling, and any surface/tools the raw meat comes into contact with. Do not touch your face or any other objects between washings.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toast the bread slices until they can be easily crumbled into breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper. Whisk the egg in a bowl. Cut the chicken into pieces. Dip the pieces of chicken in the whisked egg. Roll the pieces of chicken in breadcrumbs. The egg and breadcrumbs should stick to all sides of the chicken pieces. Grease a baking tray with non-stick cooking spray, margarine, or butter. Place the pieces on the baking tray. Bake the chicken at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. After baked, cut the chicken to the centre, checking for pink parts. If the middle is white, it is cooked through.

Maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet is something that most students find to be challenging. Preparing healthy foods can often take time, which is hard to come by when catching up on readings, preparing for a huge presentation, pulling an all-nighter to complete an assignment, or studying for an exam that is worth half your grade. Nevertheless, it is important to make healthy choices when it comes to eating in order to provide your body with the energy and nutrition it needs to carry you through these hectic times.
Here are ten food items that any college or university student should have in their kitchen to make healthy eating as easy and enjoyable as possible:

Image by alexlomas, Flickr

Image by alexlomas, Flickr

1. Vegetables
Vegetables – especially dark greens such and kale, broccoli, and green leaf lettuce – contain vitamins, minerals, fibre, and plant-based substances that help to improve one’s overall health. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can cause problems for the brain, which can lead to a lack in productivity. Eat them raw, in a salad, sautéed, or by incorporating them into more substantial dishes.
Image by rumpleteaser, Flickr

Image by rumpleteaser, Flickr

2. Fruits
A perfect snack for students. They can easily be consumed on the go and contain healthy sugars that can curb a sweet tooth. In particular: bananas are rich in potassium and make a great accompaniment to breakfast; blueberries are filled with antioxidants, and help to improve one’s learning and memory; and, as the old saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!
Image by s58y, Flickr

Image by s58y, Flickr

3. Nuts
A great source of protein – especially for vegetarians! They are a quick, easy, and surprisingly filling snack. Moreover, there are numerous types to indulge in depending on your personal preferences, including almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and cashews.
Image by Neeta Lind, Flickr

Image by Neeta Lind, Flickr

4. Salmon
The ultimate brain food. This type of fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that help to develop the brain and enhance its function. Unlike tuna, salmon does not contain large amounts of mercury, making it a healthier option. If purchased pre-seasoned, it can be very quick to merely grill or bake.
Image by SodanieChea, Flickr

Image by SodanieChea, Flickr

5. Yogurt
An excellent source of calcium, which is a vitamin that aids in bone development and preservation. This delicious food can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack, or even as dessert. Opt for a low-fat variety and add some granola and/or fruit on top to make it more satisfactory.
Image by SweetOnVeg, Flickr

Image by SweetOnVeg, Flickr

6. Quinoa
Quinoa is among some of the newest health food trends. It is said to be a super-grain, and offers incredible health benefits such as protein, fibre, and iron. Iron deficiency can lead to energy loss, which is why it is important for students to keep their iron levels up. Quinoa is a great alternative to white starches, and can be prepared in an endless amount of ways to accommodate different tastes.
Image by jenn.b, Flickr

Image by jenn.b, Flickr

7. Granola Bars
One of the easiest, tastiest, and least distracting snacks to bring to class. They are high in fibre, and can be rich in protein if they contain nuts. Purchase ones with a light chocolate drizzle over them and you have a great way to satisfy your chocolate craving without going overboard.
Image by jeffreyw, Flickr

Image by jeffreyw, Flickr

8. Eggs
Eggs can be prepared in so many different ways, each of which is quick and simple. Again, they are a great alternative to meat. If made into an omelet, you can even mix in some vegetables for added health benefits and a more filling effect.
Image by USDAgov, Flickr

Image by USDAgov, Flickr

9. Whole wheat bread
It’s much healthier for you than white bread, and is a versatile food to have in the kitchen. It can be eaten for breakfast with some natural peanut/almond butter, or for lunch and/or dinner in a sandwich.
Image by veggiefrog, Flickr

Image by veggiefrog, Flickr

10. Healthy, savory snacks
Non-buttery microwavable popcorn and kale chips are perfect for when you get that salty craving. Although they are not the absolute best for you, they are substantially healthier than buttery popcorn or regular chips, and can still do the trick in satisfying your craving.

By having all of these items readily available in your kitchen, you can easily maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet, as well as increase your brain function, energy levels, and overall productivity.

Image by epSos.de, Flickr

Image by epSos.de, Flickr

Do you know what really causes the “freshman fifteen?” Hint: it’s not just about what you eat! What you drink has a lot to do with unhealthy weight gain, and being sedentary and sleep-deprived just pack on the extra pounds. Due to the myriad of social and academic obligations of university life, the variable schedule of the average student can wreak havoc on one’s diet, sleep pattern, and exercise regimen. Staying healthy, however, will boost your mood and energy levels, which will bolster your academic performance and help you to maintain a positive mindset. Here are some basic ways to stay healthy at university:

1. Sleep well

Good sleep is essential for your physical and mental wellbeing – it will help maintain your metabolism, improve your memory, and heighten mental clarity. Poor sleep, on the other hand, reduces your energy level and ability to concentrate, and results in higher levels of irritability, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, sleep deprivation causes an increase in appetite, which may result in weight gain. Try to establish a regular sleeping pattern of eight hours each night, going to bed and getting up at the same time.

2. Exercise frequently … and sneakily
It’s easy to lead a sedentary lifestyle at school. What do you do in a lecture hall? You sit. What do you do in the library? You sit. What do you do in the cafeteria? You sit. While university seems to require a lot of sitting, it is important to be active in order to stay healthy. Establish a routine of regular exercise – treat your gym time like an extra class in your schedule, or split your workouts into shorter and more frequent increments that will fit into a busy schedule. If you don’t think you can muster the self-discipline to make it to the gym alone, sign up for an exercise class with a friend. Try something interesting and new – kickboxing, squash, yoga, tennis, or Pilates are all great ways to get moving. Don’t forget the little things that you can do in between workouts to maximize your level of activity – walk to class, take the stairs, and stand up to stretch your legs for every hour you find yourself sitting in the library.

3. Watch your beverages
There are four types of beverages that can have an impact on your health: alcohol, soda and soft drinks, caffeinated drinks, and water.

Alcoholic drinks contain empty calories and no nutritional value whatsoever. The excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages can have serious physical effects – if it isn’t enough that a single shot of vodka contains a whopping 100 calories, studies show that regular consumption of alcohol impairs your ability to absorb nutrients and burn fat over time.

Soft drinks, sodas, and sweetened fruit juices also cause unhealthy weight gain and slow your digestion. They contain high levels of sugar, and their diet equivalents simply substitute the sugar content with chemicals that are just as toxic for your system. Soda should be a treat, not a habit. Substitute your sugary fix with a refreshing cup of tea (chamomile and mint tea promote relaxation and digestion, and sweeter flavours such as strawberry, peach, ginseng, or lemon keep it interesting). You can also switch your soda for a sparkling water.

Keep an eye on your caffeine consumption, too. Caffeinated drinks are often dehydrating – remember to drink two glasses of water for every coffee or energy drink you consume. Also, drinking coffee too late in the day might disturb your quality of sleep at night. Most importantly, watch out for the unhealthy additives in calorie-laden lattes or specialty drinks at your favourite coffee shop – one chai tea latte from Starbucks sounds innocent enough, but even its smallest size packs an incredible 240 calories (not to mention 41 grams of sugar).

Make sure you drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is essential to maintaining general health and energy levels, and helps to control your weight and appetite, improve your skin, flush your system, and improve your quality of sleep. Try to drink a glass of water every hour and before each meal.

4. Everything in moderation
Don’t be afraid of bread, pasta, and cereals – in moderation, they can be part of a healthy diet. Avoiding them completely can have a negative impact on your metabolism, which is essential to fighting that freshman fifteen. Just keep in mind that dessert should be a treat, not a habit. Make sure you fuel up on nutrient-rich foods with plenty of fibre – whole grains, lentils, spinach, broccoli, beans, and zucchini, among others. Add avocado, lettuce, and tomato to your sandwiches. In the cafeteria, avoid fried or breaded items, and choose the grilled option instead. Add chicken to your salad for a protein boost. Substitute brown rice for white rice, mustard for mayonnaise, whole grain for white bread, and olive oil and vinegar for creamy salad dressing. For motivation and inspiration, look to food blogs and Pinterest recipes to get you excited about eating healthy.

5. What you eat is just as important as when you eat it.
Between classes, assignment deadlines, exams, parties, and going out with friends, it can be difficult to plan a regular meal schedule. Remember to eat breakfast (it starts your metabolism and gives you a boost of energy, which will help control your appetite and prevent overeating throughout the day) and pack healthy snacks to bring to campus (baby carrots, pretzels, apples, and almonds are all great ideas) to tide you over until lunch (a sandwich with a soup or salad is always a healthy option). Avoid midnight snacking, ordering pizza at two in the morning, or grabbing a greasy bite after a night out with your friends – studies show that eating late at night can cause unhealthy weight gain. Stress can also have an effect on how you eat, so try to avoid unhealthy and excessive snacking when you are bored or worried about something, and do not skip meals – a diet of regular meals and nutritious snacks is important to the maintenance of your overall health.