Healthy eating habits/Healthy Eating for Honours Students

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Healthy Eating

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With so many different healthy eating messages out there it can be hard to know where to start. Healthy eating is defined as an adequate intake of food and nutrients helping to maintain an optimal health status[1] . When studying full-time, which for many students also means working part-time, healthy eating can be put to the side. However, a few simple steps towards healthy eating can help to maintain a healthy weight, assist your immune system, improve energy levels, help prevent diet related disease (eg: Type 2 diabetes) and assist in focus during study[2][1].

Australian Guide to Healthy Eating[3]

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The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating provides information about the amounts and types of foods to include in a healthy diet for people of different ages, genders and eating styles. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating contains 5 major guidelines;

  1. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs
Three running women
  • For adults, 30 minutes of physical activity/exercise is recommended daily
  • When eating, eat slowly and stop when you are full
  1. Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five groups every day
  • Ensure you are eating foods from all five food groups;
  1. Fruit
  2. Vegetables
  3. Grains
  4. Lean meats and poultry and alternatives
  5. Dairy and alternatives
  • Drink plenty of water
  1. Limit intake of foods containing saturated fats, added salt, added sugars and alcohol
  • These foods are associated with increased risk of obesity and chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  • Try swapping foods high in these components for similar alternatives:
  • Swap a side of chips with a side of salad
  • Swap sour cream for yoghurt in a recipe
  • Stir-fry, grill, bake or steam. Don’t deep fry
  • Limit 'sometimes' foods such as ice-creams, pastries and chocolates
  1. Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding
  2. Care for your food; prepare and store it safely
  • If you are taking food to University with you, does it need to be refrigerated?

Of these 5 guidelines, 1,2,3 and 5 become key when studying at University to optimize health.

What is a serve?[3]

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Fruit Vegetables Grains Lean Meat and Poultry Dairy and Alternatives
Daily recommended serves for men aged 19-50 2 6 6 3 2 1/2
Daily recommended serves for women aged 19-50 2 5 6 2 1/2 2 1/2
What makes a serve
  • 1 banana, apple or orange
  • 2 apricots, kiwifruits or plums
  • 1 cup of diced or canned fruit
  • 30g of dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup of broccoli, spinach, carrot or pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup of cooked, dried or canned beans, peas or lentils
  • 1 cup of green leafy or raw salad vegetables
  • 1/2 medium potato
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta, quinoa or porridge
  • 2/3 cup cereal
  • 1/4 cup meusli
  • 1 small English muffin or scone
  • 65g of beef, lamb, veal or pork
  • 80g of chicken or turkey
  • 100g of fish
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of legumes/beans
  • 170g of tofu
  • 30g of nuts or seeds
  • 1 cup of milk, soy milk or rice milk
  • 2 slices or 40g of hard cheese such as cheddar
  • 1/2 cup or 120g of soft cheese such as ricotta
  • 3/4 cup or 200g yoghurt

Food at University

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Tips on how to buy healthy

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  • Avoid deep fried and pastry options, instead go for bread based options
  • Try for smaller more regular portions that include some salad or vegetables
  • Limit high fat, high salt sauces/toppings
  • Plan your meals ahead of time
20111012-FNCS-LSC-0225 - Flickr - USDAgov

Tips on taking food

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  • Pack a small frozen bottle of water with your food to keep refrigerated food cold until you eat it.
  • Plan ahead. Prepare your lunch the night before. Without planning, you are more likely to pick up unhealthy snacks, such as a bag of chips, on your wy out the door.
  • Cook in batches ahead of time. This will allow you to take meals, such as pasta, as they will already be packaged in the fridge, convenient to grab on your way out.
  • Keep some meals that can be grabbed on the run in the pantry. This way, if you are caught off guard, there is a quick alternative to packaged items such as chips.
  • Tinned tuna with tomato and toast
  • Small containers of mixed nuts

For more information on the guidelines and tips on how to follow them

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Dietitians Association Australia


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  1. a b Dietitians Association of Australia (2013) Healthy Eating. Retrieved from
  2. Department of Health (2011) Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Retrieved from
  3. a b National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council. Retrieved from