University of Newcastle nutrition student pens cookbook to help poor uni diets

HAND IN HEALTH: Nutrition student Mitchell Williams, with senior lecturer Leanne Brown, has written a cookbook for uni students. Photo: Gareth Gardner

HAND IN HEALTH: Nutrition student Mitchell Williams, with senior lecturer Leanne Brown, has written a cookbook for uni students. Photo: Gareth Gardner

A TAMWORTH student has turned his bread and butter into a healthy morsel for his fellow students.

Based at the city’s University of Newcastle rural health campus, dietetics and nutrition student Mitchell Williams has tried to take a bite out of a slew of negative statistics associated with the diets of uni students.

He has compiled a cookbook for students who may be living away from home for the first time.

A separate study by the uni last year found 93 per cent of students don’t eat the necessary servings of fruit and vegetable while studying.


While more than half eat the recommended two serves of fruit per day (54.5 per cent), less than one-in-10 (8.4 per cent) hit the benchmark for veggie consumption.

Mr Williams hoped the cookbook would give his fellow students healthy, simple and affordable eating options.

Following a survey of his Tamworth cohorts, he found a range of perceived barriers were impeding healthier choices.

“The main barriers included a lack of motivation, a lack of time and cost,” he told The Leader.

The book will just stay within the Johnston St accommodation, but there could be value in spreading it around to other campuses.

“I see it firsthand living with other students,” he said.

“Even then it’s probably a bit skewed because it’s students in health disciplines.

“It makes you wonder what’s going on in other situations.”

Primarily, it’s aimed at improving nutritional intake, but there is a holistic approach with the book which also talks about reducing stress and protecting yourself against illness.

Tamworth dietitian and senior lecturer Leanne Brown works with health students and budding nutritionists daily.

While they’re filling their heads with health-related knowledge, it’s not necessarily easy for them to fill their stomachs with healthy foods, Dr Brown said.

“They’re interested in health, but that doesn’t make it easy for them,” she said.

“They can be pressed for time and go for something convenient and easy.”

Tips from The Student Guide to Eating Well on Placement

  • When shopping, buy some canned kidney beans or lentils and add it to mince dishes to save money and make the dish last longer.
  • Buy staple foods such as breads and cereals, meat, fruit, vegetables and dairy before considering snacks like chips, chocolates or sugary drinks.
  • We know that people who eat diets rich in fruit or vegetables are less stressed and anxious than those eating a diet high in processed foods, so how do you measure up? Loading up on fruit and vegetables throughout the day could be the secret to thriving (not just surviving) during those stressful placements and exam periods.
  • Failing to choose a healthy breakfast, or not having breakfast at all, could be the reason why you feel lethargic or drained by 10am.


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