Last week, in my St. Patrick’s Day green, I celebrated food. Usually, my food parties involve ice cream, sour ju jubes, and pizza. Readers, I’ll admit, I have the worst sweet tooth, especially during exams when my mouth is like a magnet for sugar and deep fried anything. Uh readers, have you tried deep fried cupcakes…? Never again! Too delicious and bad for my body!
Well, on Thursday, March 17th, my sweet tooth and I munched on carrots, yogurt and granola, and chatted with nutritionists at the nutrition fair at the Bahen Centre. Sweet potato soup? Vegetables? Cereal?! This was not the food party I was used to.
But I realized that there’s a lot about healthy eating that I didn’t know. Do you know how many servings of fruit and vegetables we should be having every day? At the nutrition fair, I guessed five, which is much more than I eat. I was wrong. Females 18-50, like me, should be eating 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables every day! Males 18-50 need 8-10 servings!
A survey by the University of Toronto Health and Wellness Services revealed that 44% of U of T students reported only eating 1 to 2 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Yikes! So, make sure to check out Canada’s Food Guide for more information on how to get the food servings you need from each of the four food groups: vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, and meat and alternatives.
With my sweet tooth and small budget, I find it hard to make healthy food choices as a student. Shirin Panahi, a PhD student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, who leads the Frosh Fit nutrition sessions, told me that, “Staying up late to study (especially during exam time), stress, the availability of healthy options on campus, and eating full and complete meals are just some of the challenges university students face when it comes to making healthy food choices.” For me, it always seems so much easier to grab a muffin or a piece of pizza when I’m super busy than taking the time to go grocery shopping, cut up vegetables and pack my lunch.
But, Shirin stresses, “Eating a high-quality nutrient-dense diet is one of the most important steps to better physical, mental and emotional health. This will help with performance in school and increase energy levels.” So, if I want to do the best that I can as a student, I really need to start making changes to my diet. Exams are just around the corner!
Shirin suggests that students on a budget buy affordable nutrient-dense foods such as high fibre cereals, milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables such as, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, raw nuts and beans. Yes, this does mean spending more time grocery shopping and preparing food. But, if we want to do our best in school, it’s important to make the effort to eat healthy food. Things like cooking food (like a pot of chili or stew) in advance and freezing it in individual servings, and always having snacks like apples, cheese and crackers, or carrots and hummus with us, can actually save us time and money!
At the nutrition fair, I picked up a great map produced by the University of Toronto Food Services that shows where students can buy affordable, delicious and nutritious foods on campus. Looking for vegan foods, halal options, microwaves? Find out where you get can them here.
Also, readers, if you’re looking for healthy meal ideas, EatRight Ontario’s website has great recipes, personalized menu plans, shopping lists, cooking tips, and nutritional information. You can also chat with a registered dietician online or by calling 1-877-510-510-2.
For recipes, news, events, and all food-related topics at U of T, check out the UeaT blog. Also, if you’re here in the spring/summer, make sure to stop by the U of T’s Farmer’s Market, which will be held at Willcocks Commons.
So, readers, after the nutrition fair I was a bit overwhelmed with how much effort I’m going to need to put into eating healthier. This time being overwhelmed=party time! Food party, that is. This weekend, I’ve invited a few friends over to take a road trip to the grocery store followed by cooking up some new healthy recipes! Readers, do you have any good recipes to suggest?