Dietary habits

"You are what you eat" as the saying goes. Are you getting enough energy and nutrients to feel good and to cope with your studies and other activities?

Less than ideal food habits are common amongst students. Limited time, stress, lack of money and focus on different things are some common reasons for this. It is easy to understand that you would rather focus on studies, social activities and interests than on what you’re eating, but have you ever considered that by eating healthy you may have more energy left for other things?

Your body needs a combination of nutrients to function and feel good! How much energy you need will depend on your sex, age, and amount of physical exercise you get. Healthy eating is a matter of balance. Your health is affected both short and long term by what, how much, and how often you eat. You obtain energy and nutrients from carbohydrates, fat and protein, vitamins and minerals. In addition to these you need water, and your digestive systems needs fibers to function well. But it is not sufficient to eat well if you want a healthy lifestyle. This consists of a combination of good food and physical exercise habits.

A varied, regular diet increases your chances to obtain the energy and nutrients you need throughout the day. Three meals at approximately 3-4 hour intervals is a good rule of thumb. You also need a few snacks throughout the day, such as a sandwich, yoghurt and/or fruit. Spreading your meals evenly throughout the day will result in stabilized blood sugar levels which should make you feel less tired, more able to concentrate, and less of a need to snack in between meals. Do not skip a good breakfast! Your breakfast should represent 25-30 percent of your daily energy intake! Try to consider your nutritional needs during stressful times as well; this is when you need it the most.

What's your diet like?

Here you can check your dietary habits and get instant feedback with helpful tips and advice.

Have you got questions concerning your dietary habits? Do you feel your relationship to what and how you eat is complex? Do you suspect you have issues with diet or have your friends commented on excessive weight loss? Maybe talking to someone about it can help. Please feel free to book an appointment with one of the occupational health nurses at the Student Health Centre.

What is nutritional?

Eating properly means following the nutritional recommendations (SNR; Swedish Nutritional recommendations) issued by the National Food Administration. In practice, this means:

  • Eating a lot of fruit and vegetables.
  • Choosing whole grain options to bread, grains, cereal, pasta, and rice.
  • Eating fish often, preferably three times a week.
  • Change from hard saturated fat to soft mono and polyunsaturated fats; i.e. use liquid margarine or rape-seed oil for cooking and baking, rape-seed or olive oil for dressing, and low-fat margarine on bread.
  • Choosing foods labelled with the key hole symbol, indicating a low fat content and rich in fiber, and a limited amount of sugar and salt.
  • Eating fewer pastries, sweets, snacks, chocolate, cream, and drinking fewer fizzy drinks and alcohol, as well as limiting consumption of these to a few times a week maximum.

The recommendations (SNR) provide reference values for energy, how much you need of protein and vitamins and minerals. The SNR also recommends suitable proportions between protein, lipids, carbohydrates as sources of energy, expressed in energy percentage (E%).

Why wholegrain?

It takes longer for fiber-rich food to pass through the intestines, leading to a gentler rise in blood sugar. Another positive effect is the improved functioning of the intestine. However, other substances than wholegrain are often used to produce fiber-enriched food, which means that you can ingest fiber without getting the digestive benefits of wholegrain. The risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and overweight is decreased with consumption of wholegrain foods. All you need to get a healthy dose of fiber is a portion of whole oatmeal porridge and a helping of wholegrain pasta or two slices of crisp bread and a portion of wholegrain bulgur wheat.

Why water?

Water is needed for the body to function. Water transports nutrients to and waste products from every cell in the body and regulates body temperature through perspiration.

Food normally contains about half the water our bodies need. It is advisable to drink water with each meal, but in addition it is best to drink water between meals as well when you are feeling thirsty. Water is the ideal drink to accompany food as well as to quench the thirst. Remember that fizzy drinks, squash, and alcohol contains lots of energy but no nutrients.

While dietary advice can easily seem prescriptive and preachy, food can be both healthy and tasty: food is at its best when it offers both nutrients and enjoyment. Below are some blogs (in Swedish) with tips on healthy, tasty and inexpensive food.