First of all, apologies for my radio silence – I’ve spent the last couple of weeks settling into uni life. For those of you who haven’t been following me on here or on Instagram, I’ve just embarked on a degree in Nutrition at the University of Surrey. From speaking to several people who are interested in health and are not yet at uni, it’s become fairly obvious that there is a common notion or concern that you are unable to remain healthy when you go to uni, and so I’m writing this post with the aim of proving why this is not the case.
Firstly, this topic depends on your interpretation of health. For me, health is a term that encompasses a number of areas, including mental health and balance, not just what you consume and how regularly you hit the gym. I am therefore healthiest when I allow myself treats and thus create my own version of balance. I don’t think of ‘healthy eating’ and ‘exercising’ as fads or as some kind of regime, I think of them as a way of living. To me these don’t feel like a chore since I enjoy eating healthily (I find meals without vegetables boring and bland) and in a way that fuels my body effectively. As for exercise, which I also enjoy, I generally try to incorporate movement where I can, for example walking when I can rather than taking a bus.
Now that we’ve covered a summary of my ethos, I’m going to deal with the questions.
- Do you go out and do you drink?
As you may have gathered I am more of a ‘stay-in-and-watch-Netflix’ kind of girl rather than a ‘clubbing-till-4am’ kind of girl (yes I am secretly middle-aged). Nonetheless, Fresher’s is a week of socialising and a time for meeting new friends, so I do think it’s important to go out. Although it can sometimes be all too tempting to stay in, I did manage to go out a few times during Fresher’s week to avoid turning into a hermit, and I do often enjoy myself once I get there. I’d also like to reassure you by saying that there will be people like you – not everyone wants to go out all night every night and get drunk.
One of the questions that has come up numerous times since I’ve been here has been: ‘so you study nutrition – does that mean you don’t drink?’ I do drink, not often, not a lot, but I do enjoy a drink every now and again – all things in moderation! I am partial to a G&T which my student budget is thankfully able to cater for due to the fact that I am a 5ft3 one-drink-only lightweight. Does this isolate me from others? No. I have some friends who will have one drink too, and others who lose count of how many they’ve had and stay out till the early hours of the morning. I might study nutrition and be focused on health, but I’m not judgemental of others (provided that they don’t judge me for staying sober) and I can still have a good time with them without getting drunk.
And this goes without saying, but never let anyone pressurise you into drinking more than you feel comfortable with!
- Is it difficult to eat healthily at uni?
In my opinion, no. It all comes down to you and your motivation to eat healthily. You have to be both organised and prepared, and by that I mean by doing things like setting or writing down reminders for the days when you will need to take a packed lunch, and by making a packed lunch the night before. It’s your choice but you know that if you don’t prepare a meal you’ll end up grabbing something on the go which probably isn’t that nutritious or filling, and will cost you more money than if you had made it yourself.
Eating healthily also doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve been eating a mainly vegetarian diet since I’ve been here, except for the odd tin of tuna. It’s cheaper, more environmentally friendly, often easier, quicker and safer to cook (and Linda McCartney rosemary & onion veggie sausages taste incredible). I keep plenty of tinned foods for convenience, including tuna and beans, and I buy lots of fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits, along with eggs, which are a staple for me.
You do, of course, also have to be sensible. That means spending money sensibly, not splashing out all the time, not just eating like a queen for a week or two and then living off baked beans for the remainder of the semester. You can get an idea of the meals I eat at uni on my Instagram.
- Is it difficult to exercise and keep fit at uni?
The same goes for this question; it depends on your motivation and how badly you want to achieve something. I have just qualified as a personal trainer and I am passionate about fitness but, during fresher’s week, fitness was not my priority. I was getting used to a new environment, settling in and meeting new people so exercise took a backseat for a while. I try to get movement in where I can, so I walk to and from the campus where I have my lectures every day, occasionally twice a day depending on whether I have morning and late afternoon lectures, and that’s about a 20-25 minute walk each way. I am lucky to be based 5 minutes away from the amazing sports park here, which means it’s very convenient for me to get to the gym, and I have also joined the athletics and gymnastics clubs here which encourage me to be social, to train and to learn new skills.
If you’re someone who finds it hard to motivate yourself to workout, then I’d recommend joining a sport where you can meet new people and commit to training sessions.
I hope this helps and if you have any questions about uni life then please comment below!