Excessive junk food consumption affects your body in negative ways and can damage your health. The term junk food is used to describe a food that has few of the nutrients that your body needs and a lot of sugar, salt and fat.
Health risk factors increase with a poor diet. It could lead to weight gain and chronic health conditions, increase your chances of developing anxiety and depression and provide side effects such as tiredness, poor sleep and fatigue. Still, Australians spend most of their food budget on unhealthy foods.
It is a common perception that healthy eating is more expensive than eating junk foods and many blame cost for being the barrier of healthy eating. However, professor Amanda Lee from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), is leading a research project revealing that healthy foods actually are cheaper than buying junk foods.
Eating junk foods once in a while will not have any serious negative effects on your body and health. However, excessive eating can provide some serious side effects. That is why we have created this article providing you with our top five tips for healthy eating on a student budget.
Why it is important to eat healthy
Let us begin with why it is important to eat healthy. Healthy eating habits and eating a balanced and nutritious diet is vital to your health, body, mind and wellbeing. Our body needs healthy foods as it helps us grow and function properly.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends choosing a variety of foods from the five major food groups to promote good health. The five food groups are:
1: Legumes, beans and vegetables
3: Lean meats and poultry, eggs, tofu, fish, nuts, seeds, beans
4: Dairy products
5: Wholegrain and high cereal fibre varieties
Eating lean meats, poultry and fish produce will boost your energy levels and provide your body with protein, important to muscles growth. Eating fruits and vegetables provides you with healthy nutrients like potassium, fibre and vitamin C, reducing your risk of stroke, weight gain, diabetes 2 and coronary heart disease. Vegetables and leafy greens provide our bodies with essential vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and energy. Berries are great sources of fibre and blueberries are packed with antioxidants that help prevent diseases. Dairy products are rich in protein and calcium boosting your immune system. Whole grains are rich in fibre, and eating whole grain products can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Our top 5 tips for staying healthy on a student budget
1: Look for sales
Coles, Woolworths and Aldi all have weekly specials. Check the weekly circular to see what’s on sale and do your shopping accordingly.
While many of us get stuck in our weekly meal routine, planning your meals around what´s on sale also allow you to get creative. So get creative, experiment with some new foods and try out some new recipes. You might discover your new healthy favourite dish.
2: Welcome legumes and beans
If you are after an inexpensive meal, try beans, lentils, peas and whole grains such as freekeh, brown rice and quinoa. They are all rich in healthy nutrients suck as dietary fibre, calcium, iron and potassium. You can either add it to a meal like a mince dish or stew, or make it into a meal in itself.
3: Buy fruits and fresh produce when it is in season
Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the simplest choices you can make to improve your overall health.
Fresh foods are often are more expensive than frozen products. That is why you should buy what’s currently in season and freeze it. You can save lots of money by stocking up when you find a good deal.
4: Create your shopping list in advance
You are less likely to buy unhealthy items or spend more money if you create a shopping list in advance and more importantly, stick to it. Ensure that your shopping list only includes healthy items. Aim for a variety of foods recommend in the five food groups.
Tips: Never do your shopping while you are hungry.
5: Prepare meals ahead
One of the main reasons as to why we eat junk foods is because it is fast to prepare. After a long day of studying you might feel tired and lack energy to prepare healthy foods. Then, remember, healthy foods will provide you with more energy, helping you stay awake for that important assignment.
Planning and preparing your meals ahead will help you stay healthy. Pick a day and use an hour or two preparing your meals. Stock it up in the fridge or freezer so that you always have something healthy to eat.
Remember, eating junk foods once in a while is not going to hurt you. However, eating too much junk food can have serious negative effects on your health. A healthy diet varies in the proportions of carbohydrate, fats and protein. Eating a variety of foods from the five main food groups promotes good health and wellbeing.