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Ways to Eat – the Freshers’ guide to nutrition

Many freshers will be embracing their newfound freedom in what they feed themselves in these first few weeks of university. For some, this may mean little apart from Domino’s vouchers and Cadbury’s; for others, it’s an opportunity to try something new. Maybe university is your opportunity to test out a meat-free lifestyle, or try your hand at a low-carb diet. But how do you know which diet would suit best, what supplements might be needed, or whether it’s even considered healthy? The university website is has surprisingly few resources on nutrition, despite it being a critical part of your wellbeing. You’re left to the internet and the advice of your peers, which is not exactly reassuring or straightforward.

Ways to Eat is a nutrition eBook created specifically for Manchester students. The book covers the basic principles of nutrition (is butter a carb?) in addition to providing pros and cons of five diets, including the government dietary guidelines. Covering veganism, paleo, the ketogenic diet, and intermittent fasting, the eBook gives a visual representation of a day’s eats. Additionally, if you’re looking for good food on the go, there are several recommendations for Mancunian eateries that cater to each of these specialised diets.

Eating healthy can be rather confusing. Or at least, that’s the impression given off by mainstream media. Growing up, we were all told that saturated fat was the worst of all food evils. These days, doctors are telling us that it is refined sugar and carbohydrates that are the problem in our diets. In today’s culture of nutritionists, talk-show doctors, and attention-grabbing headlines, it can be tough to decipher the qualified from the quacks. This resource was written directly from scientific literature, and works to convey the reality that nutrition rarely works in absolutes. In short, there is more than one way to eat and be healthy! Seemingly extreme dieting trends such as veganism or the Atkins diet can be valuable when their positives and negatives are fully understood, and that isn’t even considering the benefits for the environment when attempting diets like vegetarianism or veganism. Incorporating aspects of these diets into a more moderate lifestyle may make healthy eating more achievable, especially for busy students who want to try and stay healthy during their degree years.

Photo: Lacey Munroe

Photo: Lacey Munroe

As the semester wears on, up to 60% of incoming freshers are likely to experience weight gain—or, as it is more commonly called, the ‘Freshers’ Fifteen’. It’s no wonder given the stereotypical alcohol-heavy, convenience food-laden atmosphere that being at university starts to conjure up. Weight gain in early adulthood can significantly increase risks of metabolic problems later in life. The statistics aren’t great, and they’re only getting worse—1 in 16 people in the UK have Type 2 Diabetes—so it’s definitely worth being cautious of.

Whether you’re enjoying the food freedom responsibly or haven’t seen a vegetable in weeks, the main message that should be taken from the eBook is that being “healthy” doesn’t have to be your full time occupation or identity. It is mindfulness which becomes habit; just choose to eat nutritious foods more often than choosing indulgences. While that sounds simple, carrying it out won’t be — but try and keep in mind all the benefits! The healthiest diet for you at university is one which is nutritious but sustainable. For most, sustainable means the occasional take-away or bar of chocolate—but it also should mean mostly home-cooked meals and plenty of fruit and vegetables on a regular basis.

The eBook can be found at waystoeat.wordpress.com. Follow the author on social media for commentary and discussion on the latest nutrition stories in the media: @SciCommLacey on Twitter, and facebook.com/waystoeat.

Tags: dieting, Exercise, Freshers, healthy eating, nutrition, university

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