The vibrant student life; full of responsibility, freedom and fun, but also full of temptations. Let that be the VrijMiBo, the BBQ in your classmate’s garden or that one last night out during the week. These activities have one thing in common; food and drink that is not always healthy.
Many think that – to look good and healthy – you need to eat little and exercise a lot. There is a grain of truth in this, of course, but eating little is not everything; balance is the foundation of a healthy life. It’s not that you should skip every get-together or barbecue because you’re afraid you’ll consume too many calories. It is, however, the case that in addition to enjoyable activities where you can enjoy what you eat and drink, you can also ensure a healthy, balanced and varied lifestyle.
On this page we give you some tools that can help you on your way to a lifestyle you can be proud of.
General information – carbohydrates, fats, protein and micronutrients
Carbohydrates are broken down into the substance glucose which serves as an energy supply for your body. There are two types of carbohydrates: fast and complex carbohydrates. Your body breaks down fast carbohydrates the easiest and consists of foods that are mostly sweet. Think sugar, honey, milk and fruit. Complex carbohydrates take a little longer to break down and are often heartier. These include rice, pasta and bread.
Fat has many functions, including storing energy and making hormones. There are three types of fats; trans-fat, saturated fat and unsaturated fat. Saturated fat is known as “unhealthy” fat that can increase cholesterol and the risk of heart disease in large amounts and is found in fried foods, butter, and high-fat meats. Unsaturated fat is known as ‘healthy’ fat can actually lower the risk of heart disease and is found in plant sources, think nuts, seeds, and oil. Finally, there is trans-fat, fat that is found primarily in margarine, dough/paste and fried foods. The WHO states that trans-fat is the most unhealthy and should be avoided.
Protein is responsible for building, growing and repairing muscle tissue. It consists of amino acids found in meat, chicken, fish, egg and dairy. There are also plant sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, seeds and soy.
Micronutrients (micros) are the nutrients that your body needs a small amount of to function, but they are certainly not unimportant. Micros are vitamins and minerals and have a wide variety of functions to keep your body in tip-top shape. Vitamins and minerals are obtained exclusively from food since your body does not produce them on its own. Examples include vitamin C from oranges or iron from spinach.
Vitamin D – Strong bones and muscles, immune system (fortified milk, cereals, oily fish)
Vitamin A – Growth, skin, hair, nails (egg, fish, sweet potato)
Vitamin E – Antioxidant, metabolism (vegetable oil, vegetables, whole grains)
Vitamin K – Good blood clotting (green leafy vegetables, egg, milk)
Carbohydrates are not necessarily bad for you, so don’t avoid them but pay attention to the type of grains you eat; white grains are often fast carbohydrates. By eating whole grains you get slower carbohydrates and you stay full longer.
Eating foods rich in fiber is very good for your bowel movements. Fiber is mainly found in grains, vegetables and fruits. A good bowel movement means a good metabolism.
Eat protein-rich foods. Easy foods that you can get a lot of protein from are eggs, peanut butter, nuts, dairy and lean meats.
It’s a well-known fact that drinking water is good for you, but did you know that swapping certain drinks for water can cause your sugar intake to drop quite a bit? For example, instead of cola, drink water and add a flavor so you can enjoy it too!
The way you prepare food plays a very important role in how healthy it is. Fried or grilled food is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and makes your food unhealthy. Therefore, choose to put your chicken or beef in the oven; sprinkle some olive oil and rosemary over it to finish it off.
Take advantage of the Nutrition Center’s “food switch” phenomenon. Eat swap allows you to make recipes healthier and more sustainable by replacing high-fat or high-carb ingredients with a healthier alternative.