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My Journey So Far: Staying Well and Managing Meals at Uni

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bristol chapter.

CW: Eating disorders

This week Her Campus Bristol collaborated with the university’s BEAT society, a group aiming to raise awareness of eating disorders and support those who have been affected. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, I wanted to take the opportunity to shed some light on my own university experience and how it has helped me to build a more positive relationship with food.

For the longest time I fantasised about the uni lifestyle. The independence, the freedom, the late nights and the friendships. At school, I was constantly being made to think about my future, striving for the best results and constantly feeling under pressure. As for so many young people, the pressure got too much; this is where my eating disorder began. Suddenly things became less certain and on my eighteenth birthday I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Moving away to university seemed like a distant dream, and managing my own meals would be tough. But I did make it: with the support of those around me I’m here at university and I’m loving it. It’s amazing that I am at a point now where I enjoy time in the kitchen cooking with my flatmates and going out for dinner with my dad. So I might not be a dietician, or any kind of scientific expert on food, but I have some experience of managing my meals and staying well at uni. With deadline season upon us, and the cold winter too, it is so important to stay energised and well-fuelled. I hope this advice will help you through.

plan, plan, plan

If you’re anything like me and love a good plan, then this is a must in terms of getting into a routine of nourishing meals with lots of variety. Whilst a bit of spontaneity is always ideal, having a week of evening meals set out in advance can remove that added stress, especially when returning home from a late lecture knowing there is only half a pack of cheese and a slice of ham in the fridge! This has really helped me with my weekly food shop too, making sure I buy exactly what I need for my meals and reducing the amount of time spent wondering aimlessly around the aisles. But remember, it’s only a rough plan and it’s okay to change it.

Batch cook

The term ‘batch cooking’ gets bashed around a lot at uni, especially in terms of managing student budgets and saving time. Still, I cannot stress to you enough how much this way of living has benefited me, and not just because it saves a few pennies, but because it relieves me from thinking about meal prepping constantly so I can focus my energy on other things I enjoy. I love to experiment with new recipes from time to time but honestly, keep it simple. I have boxes and boxes of my mum’s chicken curry tucked away in my freezer, as well as some good old mac n’ cheese. Taking the focus away from food leaves time and space for other things like socials, societies, and spending time with friends. Plus, it doesn’t matter if you don’t fancy something on the day you had planned because you simply don’t take it out of the freezer in the morning; problem solved.

Another benefit of batch cooking, and I promise I’ll stop talking about it soon, is that it saves portioning. For me, this can sometimes be highly triggering and a cause for too much overthinking, but when I’ve done it in advance it removes the strain. All I have to do is pop the Tupperware in the microwave and tip it out onto a plate. It has saved me time, both mentally and physically, and so I urge you to start batch cooking too!

Make it fun!

What I’ve learnt from coming to uni is that food prep can be fun too. In fact, this is the best way to go about it. Find a time when you can put some music on or listen to a podcast while you chop the veg or peel some carrots. It can actually be a good time to unwind and take a break away from your laptop (or an unending piles of books if you’re an English student like me). Cooking and eating with friends has also really helped me re-establish a healthy relationship with food. It reminds me that food has social benefits and it’s not just fuel (although it is fuel too and your body always needs it!). Learning to enjoy this side of eating is probably the most important thing I’ve gained from uni life so far. Having flat dinners or film and pizza nights were some of the things that were part of my dream of uni friendships and freedom.

Whether you’ve struggled with your relationship with food or not, it’s important to be mindful around meal time and treat it as a form of self-care. Don’t just wolf it down while sitting at your desk while desperately trying to catch up on the week’s reading. Instead take a break, use it as a way to de-stress, and finally have fun. Managing meals, especially dinners, at university is hard but it can be enjoyable too. Trust me it will be worth it.

And remember, if you are struggling with your relationship with food, make sure to reach out. Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, is a great place to start. They have so many resources and contact details to help you through so don’t hesitate to ask. Also, talk to someone you trust. I cannot thank those around me enough for their continued support in my recovery and everyone needs a little help from others once in a while. Uni can be fun, but there are lots of stresses and strains too so it’s okay to ask for some support.

See below for Beat’s contact details.

Website: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/  Phone line (England): 0808 801 0677

Kashvi Cox

Bristol '26

Hello, my name is Kashvi and I am an English undergraduate at the University of Bristol. This is my second year writing for Her Campus. Outside of my studies I love to dance, run and do anything sporty! I am also keen to get into the world of journalism and start to establish my own personal style of writing.