One universal truth that every student in UCD and Ireland can relate to is the ease of access we have as students to fast food. Be it a chicken fillet roll from Centra, sale a Dominoes pizza or a bag of Moy Park chicken nuggets in the freezer at home. Fast food is everywhere. We all know that this food is terrible for us and what we gain in convenience, check we lose in nutrients, protein and vitamins. As students these foods can be described as a false economy as our brains aren’t absorbing as much information as we could be in lectures and seminars.

So where do you start? Work out roughly what would you spend a week on food and drink. You can then use this to plan your shopping more effectively. Crucial to every healthy lifestyle is water. You should aim to drink around 2 liters of water daily. Those of you participating in sport should aim to drink an extra litre of water for every hour of exercise. When you wake up, try to drink around a pint of water to get the day started. This is crucial to rehydrate your body after sleeping for eight hours.

Personally I find omelets are a great start to the day. They are easy to make, very filling and will fit the student budget. A standard pack of six large free-range eggs will cost you less than a Starbucks coffee. Sliced ham, spinach and or mozzarella cheese are my fillings of choice.

For lunch and dinners I like to do a three-day preparation. My staple meal is a grilled chicken fillet with a 75gram serving of rice or pasta. Buying your food in bulk will save money on your shop. A ten pack of chicken fillets will usually cost around €8 to €10 and will give you enough to make five meals. All this can be cooked in one sitting and refrigerated for up to three to four days, saving those crucial minutes each morning.

Snacks have been the downfall of many the healthy diet. It’s very easy to see why in UCD as vending machines loaded to the brim with chocolate bars and crisps line the halls. fruit is an ideal alternative to bring with you in the morning, nuts can be a good snack too. They are high in calories and protein so suit an active lifestyle. Moderation is key though as too much snacking will result in excess calories that will unfortunately turn to fat. Fruits are full of sugars so be careful not to overdo it here too.

My average daily spend on food is on average €8, which provides me with three full meals a day. My sleep pattern has improved as I am not loading myself with junk, I feel much more productive throughout the day, I don’t find myself nodding off in classes and I also don’t find that I am broke at the end of the week.

I also haven’t said a permanent no to the foods that I really love such as pizzas and takeaways, for me it is important to still eat these foods on occasion, however moderation is key.

Websites such as have some fantastic suggestions for healthy meals and snacks. I tend to get most of my diet and meal suggestions from there.

In the next issue, I’ll be looking at ways students can get in shape using exercise whilst on a student budget.