Graduate Blog

Healthy In Halls


I have shocking self-control when it comes to cheesy chips. I can’t resist the greasy strips of potato, smothered in shredded pieces of something that resembles cheese (it tastes more like flour than it does actual cheese) whilst swimming in ketchup. After nights out cheesy chips are the only thing I want, regardless of whether I’m hungry or not. I got into a bad habit during my fresher year where I told myself that indulging in food that was handed to me from a van window in a polystyrene container was something that I needed, and my night wouldn’t possibly be the same without it.

As of writing this, I’m proud to say that so far this academic year I have not handed a man in a van £2.50 in return for some cheesy chips.  Although it is hard to refuse to give in to temptations, it is possible to adopt a somewhat healthy lifestyle at Uni.

Before starting my first year I had heard of the dreaded ‘fresher fifteen’, where it is believed that during your fresher year at University you’re most likely to put on fifteen or so pounds, due to your new lifestyle choices of alcohol and takeaway’s. Although this is arguably a myth, it is easy to see how the student lifestyle encourages you to loose the pounds out of your bank account as you begin to gain them on your stomach and hips.

Obviously, what you choose to cook for yourself will most usually determine your physical appearance, and that was one of the reasons I applied to all self-catered halls. I wanted to be able to have a say in what I was eating and when I was eating it, as I believed if I was in control it would be easier to monitor how much frozen pizza and cheese toasties I was consuming. However, being unlucky in my accommodation choices I had no other option other than to go into catered halls.

Catered halls can present many positives and negatives when it comes to wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The positives were that food was always available. There was never a day where I woke up with the knowledge that I would have to drag myself out of bed and head down to Tesco’s if I actually wanted to eat that day. All that was required of me was to walk the three minutes to my dining hall, grab a tray and smile sweetly to the dining hall staff as they loaded my plate with food. A positive was, was that healthy food was available. Fruit was always on hand (although you were limited to two pieces per person), there was a salad bar everyday and jacket potatoes were on offer every lunchtime. But, when presented with the choice to have a salad or a cheese and ham Panini and curly chips the obvious winner was always the carbs. It was so hard to not choose the chocolate bread and butter pudding when it was just sitting there, waiting for you to pick it up and put it on your tray. If you have fantastic self-control it is possible to be healthy in halls, but when the dining staff have got to accommodate for so many different people, be prepared for potatoes in every form to be on the menu every day (roasted, fried, curly chips, fries, chunky chips, just chips chips chips).

However, now that I’m living in a house during my second year it has become so much easier to follow a meal plan that I want. I’m trying hard to live a healthier lifestyle, so by not buying frozen food and cheese, it’s just not on offer for me to eat it. I go to my Uni town’s market in order to buy my fresh fruit and veg, and local supermarkets offer me the rest.

Most universities offer free fitness classes, (I went to a Nike Boot Camp last year and never returned after the fitness trainer who had a microphone strapped to his head, pointed me out to the rest of the class due to my poor attempts at trying to do the plank….) and sport teams at competitive or friendly levels are there to get involved in. Gym memberships can be purchased, and are usually cheaper to buy at the start of the year. However, at home workouts can be found online, and my housemate and I frequently follow youtube videos as a way to get in some cardio and yoga exercise in the comfort of our own bedrooms.

About the Author

Louise Burt Louise Burt

My name is Louise Burt, and I'm a twenty year old student in my second year at Loughborough University reading English and Drama. I have a keen interest in journalism, and am currently Features Editor for my University magazine

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