Looking after your nutrition

Eating nutritous food is key to our wellbeing. We know that it's not always easy to maintain a healthy diet whilst studying, and research shows that changes in eating habits are normal when we experience stress.

There's lots that we can do to look after ourselves when it comes to nutrition and we've put together a selection of resources to support you in doing so. From brain-boosting recipes to tips on self-compassion, take a look at the content below to find what's most relevant for you. 

Food, mood and concentration

Research shows that different food types can affect the way we think and feel. These include:

  • Protein – found in foods such as lean meat, fish, eggs, pulses, seed and nuts. Proteins can help regulate our thoughts and feelings, as they promote alertness and activity.
  • Fats- our brains need fats to keep it working well. Don’t avoid fats but eat the right ones. Examples include oily fish, chicken, nuts, olive oil, avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs.
  • Fruit and vegetables- increased consumption of fruit and veg is linked with better wellbeing. By eating a rainbow of fruit and veg, at least 5-a-day, we get good range of nutrients to keep us physically and mentally healthy.
  • Carbohydrates – slow release energy foods, like pasta, rice, oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, can help to regulate our blood sugar levels. When levels fall, we can become tired and irritable. Eating breakfast and regular meals containing some carbohydrate ensures you will have enough glucose in your blood to fuel your day.
  • Caffeine- caffeine is a stimulant and can have a short-term effect on energy levels but it can also make you feel anxious and disturb sleep if excessively consumed. Try swapping to decaf or a herbal tea in the afternoon.
  • Water- when we are dehydrated, we can find it difficult to think clearly and stay focussed. It is recommended that we drink between 6-8 glasses of fluid a day to stay hydrated.

Food, mood and self-compassion

Evidence shows that the food we eat can influence the way we feel as well as our physical health. Eating well can improve mood, give us more energy and help us think clearly.

The hormones released when we’re stressed can actually increase or decrease appetite and make us crave foods high in fat and sugar. This is why we might snack more or eat less in times of difficulty. It’s important to remember that any changes in eating habits when we’re under stress are normal and a natural response to the situations we’re in.

Remember to be kind to yourself. Research shows that by being more understanding, forgiving and self-compassionate the more likely we are to do what we need to take care of ourselves, like eating a healthy and balanced diet.

Practice self-compassion by becoming aware of how you are talking to yourself when you are eating. Write down kind responses to your inner critic and practice saying them out loud.


Useful resources