5 Easy & Practical Healthy Eating Tips for Busy College Students

Going away to college can be both an exciting, and very busy time for the new student. However, all that time burning in the midnight oil in the library – not to mention attending daily lectures and the need to blow off a little steam in the student bar every now and then can seriously take its toll.

This is why it’s especially important that students do their best to maintain their health and fitness. After all, you don’t want to fall behind in your studies by spending too much time tucked up in bed nursing the flu or other common illnesses that can easily be prevented by having a healthy and strong immune system.

One of the easiest ways to help your body to manage the day-to-day stresses when you’re in college or university is by ensuring that your body gets the proper nutrition. This means not only knowing how to cook, but also what to cook.

So, to make it easier for you to do so, here are my practical tips to you maintain a healthy diet as a student:

Bring (or Buy) the Right Tools

First things first, you are going to struggle to cook delicious healthy meals without the right kit! You also can’t assume that your student accommodation will come equipped with everything you need. In fact, if you end up only with a working refrigerator and an oven or stove –  you’ll be ok.

It will, therefore, stand you in good stead going forward if you arrive with the right tools for your kitchen. As the very basics we’re talking:

Two non-stick skillets – one small, one large. Yes, non-stick is not perfect for every meal but it is the most versatile and easy to use a skillet. Just clean it carefully – give it a gentle cleanse in warm water (with soap). Note that you shouldn’t don’t scrub it so that it will last longer.
A Chef’s knife – Invest in one good quality Chef’s knife. It is designed as a utility knife, making it ideal for everything from shredding herbs, chopping beg even de-boning a chicken. Don’t buy the cheapest, but you also probably don’t need to blow hundreds of dollars in it. Find a good middle ground and you’ll have a knife that will see you through your whole degree.
Saucepans – at least two, one deep and large enough to cook pasta or a big old pan of soup, another smaller for making sauces or reheating single portions of, for example, soup.
Other things, like peelers, weighing scales, graters etc – you can pick up as you go along, but the above is the bare minimum for a useable kitchen.

Build a Repertoire of Basic Recipes

So what are you going to do with all that equipment? Well, you’re going to put them to good use!

If you’ve not got much experience then pick up a few simple recipe books. Fast Food, by the British author Nigel Slater, is the perfect starter recipe book. Everything is easily explained, almost all the ingredients are very easy to source and, best of all, it all tastes great!

Beyond that, there are some easy classics that you should learn to master. A simple tomato sauce, made with chopped onions and canned tomatoes, can be the basis for an easy to make and nourishing pasta dish.

Soup, for example, makes a great student meal. It can turn healthy and cost-efficient vegetables and the cheaper cuts of meat like Chicken Thighs into healthy and nutritious meals. Make it in bulk (which is why we suggested the large size pot above) and, after you’ve eaten your evening meal you can freeze the rest of it in Tupperware boxes and you will have lunches and dinners to get you through the rest of the week.

A slow cooker, or a crock-pot, can be a great investment too. You can make great soups and stews with this wonderful little machine, except that you simply pour everything inside, give a good stir, close the lid and turn it on. You come back 5 or 6 hours later and – voila – you have a big bowl of beautiful soup ready to eat- a godsend when you are too occupied with your studies to cook.

Learn Complex Recipes (Great For Stress Relief)

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you might even decide that you enjoy cooking. After all, many people cook not only because they enjoy it,  they also believe that it’s an effective way to relieve stress.

This then could be seen as another healthy advantage to cooking your own food. When it’s coming up to exam time and you’re stuck hunched over your laptop for hours and hours, it can be great to know that you have an easy way to release that pressure – and cooking can be it!

If you can devote a little more of your time to it, then you can start practising more and more complex recipes. You could, for example, make simple flatbreads in your skillet to go with your soups and stews. Just 180grams bread flour, a teaspoon (each) of salt and dried oregano, a tablespoon of olive oil and 110ml warm water. Mix, form a ball and knead for five minutes. Divide into 4, roll flat and throw into a hot skillet. Perhaps, with consistent efforts, you’ll be able to gain cooking skills that would rival professional chefs!

There aren’t many problems in the word that can’t be solved with warm fresh bread dripping in butter.

Hey, if you really catch the baking bug you could even impress your Physics Tutor by baking her a batch of homemade cookies!

Order a Veggie Box

Remember we said that good nutrition means knowing what to cook as much as how to cook it? Well, it’s true what Mom said – fruits and especially veggies are the key to a nutritious diet. Veggies are also great for students as they are both cheap and filling, meaning they are easy on both your waistline and your bank account!

It can sometimes be hard to plan in advance for using them, so it could be an idea to invest in a vegetable box delivery if such a service exists in your city. For just a few bucks, these subscription services will deliver a box of delicious, fresh – often organic – vegetables to your door every week!

You can ask for a random selection to be delivered, and it can be fun opening up the box every week, unpacking your lovely veggies and setting out figuring all the meals for the week you can take advantage of your newly arrived bounty.

Learn Some Useful Cooking ‘Hacks’

Finally, we come to the downfall of many students – the lack of time. With so much to do and so little time, there is going to come a time during the academic year when cooking is just the last thing on your mind.When the pressure is on it can be tempting to turn to your local pizza joint or to defrost a frozen dinner in the microwave to relieve the pressure. You must, however, try to resist!

Whenever possible, anticipate your busy school periods and bulk cook lots of soups and stews in advance. Store them in the freezer so you have a supply of healthy food to simply pull out, defrost and quickly whip up when time is especially tight.

There are also lots of cooking hacks that you can learn that will save you a whole lot of time when preparing a hearty, delicious, and nutritious meal. This cover everything from chopping techniques to making the dishes you prepare last longer. We recommend Cooking Light’s helpful kitchen tips to get you started on the right foot!

There you have it! Hope the healthy eating tips I shared above will be as useful for you as it has been for me. Remember what I said about cooking being an effective stress reliever. When you feel the pressure is adding up, step back, and take 30 minutes out to cook and eat something both delicious and healthy. You will feel so much happier when you are done and can go back to your work refreshed and ready to tackle whatever task, project, or test that comes your way. Best of luck!

By Clare, writer contributor in BookCulinaryVacations.com. She is part of the Content and Community team at SmileTutor, sharing valuable content to their own community and beyond. Clare’s passion is connecting parents & children who are looking for English tuition in Singapore.


5 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad

Make no mistake, studying abroad is a serious undertaking – one that will challenge you on a personal and professional level. Even the most adventurous students can feel nervous about moving overseas to study.

Perhaps you’re a really family-oriented person or maybe you’ve settled into your own little circle of friends that you can’t bear to leave behind, but here’s the thing: all that will still be there when you get back. So push your FOMO to the back of your mind and take a look at these five reasons why we think every student should try to incorporate some world travel into their university lives.

1. You Get to See the World!

If it’s not obvious enough, travelling abroad means you get to experience new things that the world has to offer. Sure, your focus when you’re there is – first and foremost – to study, but most courses will give you the weekends off so you can plan day trips to nearby towns and cities.

So if you’ve always dreamed of travelling somewhere, be it the United States or the United Arab Emirates, this is your chance! Opportunities like this are hard to come by, so seize it while it’s there – and get more souks and sunshine in your life!

2. You Can Hone Your Language Skills

One of the major draws of studying abroad is the opportunity to learn a foreign language. Whether you’re learning the language from scratch or have been studying it for years, living abroad is the key to actually becoming fluent in that language, because it provides an immersive environment for language learning.

In addition, your host university will likely offer language courses, taught by native-speaking tutors, so you will get a more formal education on top of the practice you’ll get just from living your day-to-day life.

3. You Open Doors to Career Opportunities

Many international students fall in love with their host countries so much that they decide to seek work there. If you ever find yourself in that situation, you will soon learn that a local education will be very valuable when job-hunting in that country.

On the other hand, if you wish to return home after your studies overseas, you’ll go back with a new perspective on culture, as well as language skills and a willingness to learn. All of these qualities will be very appealing to your potential employers. The opportunity to explore a foreign country and a boost to help you earn a decent graduate job can’t be bad going.

4. You Will Make Lifelong Friends

One of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life. While studying abroad, you’ll be attending classes and living in close proximity with local and other international students, and the chances are that you’ll make a lifelong friend or two!

Studying abroad will allow you to really get to know your fellow students and create lasting friendships with them. You never know when these rewarding relationships may come in handy when you’re out there living your working life or when you need to pull a few strings. Just make sure you make an effort to stay in touch with them!

5. You Will Grow as a Person

As cheesy as it may sound, living abroad is really not quite the same as your average holiday. You’ll need to do your own life admin and figure everything out by yourself, and to paraphrase Destiny’s Child, “it’s not easy being independent”. It’s true, being in a new place and away from your friends and family can be tough at times, but if you’re willing to stick it out, you’ll eventually learn to adapt to diverse situations while being able to problem-solve – and you’ll realise that it’s all worth it in the end.

Are You Ready for an Adventure?

If you’re up for the challenge, then you’ll be glad to hear that Dubai is an excitement-filled and education-driven city that welcomes students from all the over the world. Don’t take our word for it, check out these exciting student events that take place annually in Dubai.

If you’re thinking of studying here, why not take a look at Dubailand, our all-inclusive student residence, which will put you at the heart of the emirate and right at the doorstep of Dubai International Academic City.

How to Stay Focused When You’re Studying

Work for a bit, scroll through Instagram for a bit, do a little more work, then visit the website of your favourite store to browse the half-price sale. A little more work, then it’s time for the sixth coffee of the day (it’s only 11 AM).

If this sounds a bit like you, don’t beat yourself up too much. We’re all guilty of it, in one way or another. In fact, recent studies by Microsoft found that people now lose concentration after just eight seconds (which is one second later than the infamously scatter-brained goldfish).

Now, far from writing a treatise on the effects of digital life on our now-weakling attention spans, we wanted to do something a little more constructive.

So, with that in mind, we’ve put together some tried-and-tested strategies that should help you maintain concentration and build discipline. If that sounds a little stern, don’t worry – we’ve made it fun.

Meditation helps

Mediation has now entered the mainstream and is more accessible than you might think. With apps like Headspace and Calm, you can channel your easily-distracted energy from the comfort of your front room.

A leading academic study by the Association for Psychological Science found that just a week or two of light mindfulness training can improve cognitive function. Its results showed a definite decrease in mind-wandering, and a boost in memory capacity.

It’s time to get zen, is what we’re saying. Having to hold concentration, and focusing on the rise and fall of your breath, will prepare you for that revision you’ve been putting off.

Take a break

Contrary to what we said about scrolling through social media, having regular breaks is important. It’s how you schedule those breaks that matters the most.

Whether it’s taking your dog for a walk, watching funny cat videos or just making some food, taking a little time away from your work will give you perspective and prevent you from getting worn-out.

Let’s say, for example, that you work solidly for an hour – you deserve a 15-minute break. In this example, the ratio is still weighted towards study, but you’re allowing yourself a break now and then.

What’s more, Science Daily tells us that brief diversions from your work will vastly improve focus. So, there’s that.

Find a perfect study spot

Define what exactly it is you need from your study space. If you need complete and utter silence, your library will accommodate. Can’t you study without an array of snacks at arm’s reach? Do a supermarket sweep before studying, so that you don’t have to go out later.

Your environment really is important when studying. The smallest distraction could irk your already-dwindling attention span and, before you know it, you’ve packed your stuff up and are out of the library.

Work offline

This has a lot to do with the distractions of social media, and being online in general. We’ve all been down various YouTube rabbit holes, and having an open tab for your Twitter feed is asking for trouble.

Instead, try going under the radar. Ensure you have all the resources you need, shut down your computer and work like our grandparents did back in the day.

Admittedly, this might not suit everyone. If your discipline is digital-reliant then we’d suggest signing out of all social media. Basically, get rid of anything you think would distract you.

Create mental associations

If you like mind-maps, this one is for you. By summarising your study in a mind-map or spider-diagram, you’ll come to form meaningful connections while working. Your understanding will become far more comprehensive, and you’ll find studying the stuff easier.

This is especially good if you’ve been having difficulty getting to grips with your work. Exasperation and defeat are distraction’s nasty little cousins, so don’t let them get the better of you.

If you have some cool stationery, too, then you’re onto a winner.

Try to get some sleep

Those caffeine-fuelled all-nighters may be tempting, but it’s scientifically proven that a sleep-deprived brain is a dysfunctional brain.

When you’re not getting the required 7-8 hours, your brain works on a short-term memory basis, rather than retaining information long-term.

Try not to cram a semester’s worth of work into a few long-haul nights, is what we’re saying.

Anticipate your physical needs

It’s annoying when you need to go to the toilet halfway through an intense study session. Or if your stomach is a rumbling, cavernous distraction all of a sudden.

Your yogi-like concentration breaks, and you’re forced to submit to whatever bodily whim that comes your way. The secret to this is to anticipate your physical needs before it’s too late.

So, if you know you have a slog ahead of you, then just make sure you eat a little something. Or go to the toilet before setting down to work.

Yes, this probably sounds very obvious, but it’s the thinking behind it that counts. If you know your body, you can pip it to the post.

You’ll soon become immune to distraction. It’s not a student issue as much as it’s a symptom of modern living, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

If you found this interesting, there’s more where this came from. Take a look over at our blog, or alternatively, you can get in touch.

Dubailand’s Space to Grow Programme

Uninest Students Dubai provides you with the space to grow in the direction that matters to you most.

The Uninest Students ‘Space to Grow’ programme is offered at all of our properties across Dubai, Germany and Ireland, we love it! The programme includes a series of learning opportunities and experiences designed to help you succeed in university life and beyond. The programme is delivered in partnership with the Residence Team and the Student Council at Dubailand.

It offers all of the below and much more:

  • Student Council – an elected student body that represents the residents views that meets regularly.
  • Skills Workshops –  like cooking, debating and language lessons so you’ll be prepared for anything university life brings.
  • Cultural Sharing – such as religious festivals, nationality evenings and book club
  • Careers Seminars – anything from interview skills, CV writing or guest speakers from across loads of industry sectors.
  • Sports – casual and competitive sports are organised for all residents so make sure you pick a team!
  • Excursions – trips to key attractions throughout the Emirates. If you’re new to Dubai we’ve got so much to show you.

If our Space to Grow programme sounds like your kinda thing, why not check out the full details of Dubailand and book your accommodation for next year now! We’ve even got a few rooms left this year so if you’re popping over for a semester we’d love to show you around.