Students! Eat smart to be smart.

Students! Eat smart to be smart.

With time and money at a premium it’s not surprising students can struggle to eat a healthy diet. Freshers in particular can fill up on all the wrong foods in their first year as they get to grips with their new freedom. Follow our guide to the best student food choices and you’ll boost your brain power whilst still having money left for a pint!

Research shows that students put on an average of 15lb during their first year by loading up on high calorie foods and alcohol. 77% also rely on processed foods such as noodles on white toast for their main meal. Unhealthy habits then develop such as skipping breakfast and lunch, eating the same foods over and over, and general laziness!

But why is what students eat so important? Aren’t they there to study, not cook?

We don’t need to tell you that what you eat feeds your brain and your body. Put simply, eating right at university means you will boost your brain power, lower your risk of depression, look better, improve concentration, compensate for the occasional but inevitable lack of sleep/over-indulgences, give you energy for workouts and invest in a healthier body for the future.

Brain food

Science confirms that what we consume really does make a difference to our brain function. If you need a reminder, here is the latest research on good foods to feed your brain. Plus, eating well makes all that research, remembering, and writing, analysing and debating so much easier.

If you’re ready for a supermarket trip, here are some of the best brain foods to stock up on:

  • Canned fish. Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty oils which ensure your brain functions well. Buy canned sardines, mackerel and salmon. These can be stirred into pasta and rice, spread on toast and sandwiches and used for potato toppings.
  • Nuts. If you don’t like fish, you can also get your omega-3 fats from flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Just 4 walnuts a day has proven to give huge benefits to the brain and body.
  • Super foods. Eat plenty of broccoli, spinach, tomatoes and avocados to boost your brain power. Vitamin C, dense in berries and fruits, is also thought to improve mental agility.
  • Chocolate. Flavonoid-rich dark chocolate will improve blood flow to your brain and give you an energy boost when required, while the sugar will enhance your alertness.

Of course students (and many others) are faced with the challenges of time and money. The average student monthly budget on food is £113, after tuition and accommodation. This means few can afford to indulge in goji berries, juices and wild salmon.  Shop around, for example using wholefood and discount stores, and take advantage of supermarket offers. For example, Co-op have recently announced they are going to offer student discounts.

Planning your meals is another great way to make the most out of your money, and you can then make food in bulk, and use up leftovers. Here’s some ideas for nutritious, easy meals:

Breakfast. Cheap and nutritious, porridge is the best option. However, if you really prefer a lie-in to preparing food then try soaking muesli the night before and adding some mixed berries in the morning. Berries are a great, nutrient-dense choice for students and frozen ones are fairly cheap and last for ages. Whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, marmite or even beans is another cheap, healthy choice.


Grab that time between lectures for a healthy lunch to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your brain alert for the afternoon. In the canteen choose whole-wheat options with fillings such as tuna, turkey, egg and chicken, plus any salad available to give you those extra vitamins. If you’re at home make more random lunches like tortilla wraps or quesadillas from leftover meat, fish and veg.

Tinned beans such as chickpeas, borlotti , flagolet and lentils plus any vegetables you have lurking in the fridge will make a wholesome homemade soup, or vegetable burgers. Make up a large batch for a few days and keep in a Tupperware container in the fridge. Combine with wholemeal breads and you’re onto a perfectly balanced meal.


Low-cost, healthy options are what you’re after. E.g. pasta is predictable but perfect. Add salmon/tuna/pesto/chicken, a tin of tomatoes, and a tub of cream cheese and there’s a quick balanced meal for you. If you have more time, roast a chicken, potatoes, and enough veggies for leftovers for lunch the next day.


Resist the temptation to buy salty and sweet snacks regularly. They don’t always fill you up and cause fluctuations in your energy and concentration. Instead, choose fresh and dried fruit, unsalted nuts and seeds, homemade cereal bars and flapjacks (low-sugar!) and plenty of water.

Finally, combine a healthy diet with plenty of physical activity and you’ll have everything covered.  Join your university gym or check out our discounted gym membership options for students.  We promise we’ll do our best to help you do your best and achieve your potential. 


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