Food is our fuel – but not just any fuel will do. A balanced diet is essential for your wellbeing and can help improve your mood, increase your energy levels and maintain a healthy weight. A healthy body feeds a healthy brain.
Eating healthily is about making small choices that combine over time, and eating good, nutritious food really doesn’t have to break the bank - it just takes a little more planning.
Imperial's TUCO award winning chef, Steve Robertson, has been turning out fabulous food at the College for a number of years and has created five easy recipes for you to cook with friends. Watch the demonstration and download the free recipe cards to get started.
Eating healthily and top tips
Are you eating well?
Sometimes it’s hard to know if your diet is a good one. Try this NHS quiz to find out how much you understand about healthy eating.
Some simple tips to help you eat healthily
- Plan regular meals that include starchy carbohydrate foods (bread, rice, pasta, noodles, potato). Try to choose wholegrain varieties. These foods supply us with energy, fibre, calcium, iron and B vitamins.
- Fruit and vegetables – aim to eat at least five portions every day. Fresh, canned, frozen, juice and dried varieties all count. Try lots of different coloured varieties to ensure an intake of a large range of vitamins and minerals.
- Eat more fish – including a portion of oily fish every week. Fish is an excellent source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish – including mackerel, pilchards, salmon, sardines and fresh tuna - contains omega 3 fatty acids, which aids heart health.
- Don't skip breakfast - it gives you energy to face the day. If you don’t feel hungry first thing in the morning, try bringing a packed breakfast so you don’t have to rely on sugary snacks to tide you over till lunch.
- Cut down on saturated fat and sugar. We need some fat in our diet but we should aim to cut down on foods high in saturated fat. Too much sugar can lead to dental decay and weight gain.
- Drink plenty of water – aim for 6-8 glasses a day.
- Try to eat less salt – adults should have less than 6g a day. A high intake of salt can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Get active and try to be a healthy weight – being overweight can lead to heart disease.
Our top tips for eating healthy, nutritious food on a budget
Living on a budget in London is tough but eating for good health can be accessible to even the tightest of budgets. Here’s how to combine frugality with nutrition and vitality:
1. Eat seasonally
When fruits and vegetables are in season they are usually at their cheapest, as well as having their best flavour and nutritional value. Choose root vegetables through the winter months, asparagus in April, berries in the summer, and apples & squash in the autumn. Go to Eat the Seasons for a month-by-month guide to what to choose when.
2. Savvy staples
Canned goods can form the basis of cheap and easy, but highly nutritious meals. Stock up your store cupboard with the following:
- Beans and pulses - a great source of protein, fibre and energy-boosting B vitamins. Fantastic to add to soups, stews and casseroles to boost the nutrient value, and to bulk up meals.
- Tinned fish - such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. A cheaper alternative to fresh fish, but still rich in heart and brain healthy omega 3 fats.
- Tinned tomatoes - the most versatile of ingredients, these can form the basis of most dishes. Cooked tomatoes have a higher concentration of the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene than raw tomatoes too.
3. The frozen aisle
Frozen vegetables and fruit are usually picked, frozen and packaged within a very short time-span. This means they may actually contain more nutrients than some supermarket vegetables, which can lie in storage for weeks before making it to the shelves. You only use them when and in the quantities you need, which greatly reduces wastage.
4. Choose your supermarket wisely
They are now popping up on every street corner, but try to avoid shopping at the major supermarket ‘mini’ stores. These outlets often don't sell fruit and vegetables as loose items, meaning that you end up spending more on packaged produce that you don’t want or need. Don’t rule out local farmers’ markets for the freshest, local produce - there is often a bargain to be had if you go at the end of the day.
5. Never shop hungry
Hunger will mean you make food choices based on what you fancy there and then, rather than what’s good for you. The best way to avoid impulse buying is to:
- Eat before you shop; and
- Prepare yourself beforehand by planning your meals for the week ahead, writing a list, and sticking to it.
6. Cook in bulk
When cooking, make large batches of your meals; freeze the leftovers and use for lunches and dinners throughout the week. If you’ve got a meal ready at home, you are less likely to splash out on a takeaway or an overpriced ready meal on those days when you don’t feel like cooking.
7. Make some simple switches
Nuts are nutrition powerhouses, but can be very pricey. Instead, opt for seeds, which are cheaper than nuts and can replace them in most recipes. Pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds are all high in protein and good fats, and bursting with minerals and vitamins.