Food for Mood 3: How to make healthier snacks

Saba James, the Nutrition for Wellbeing Lead from the National Centre for Integrative Medicine, shares three easy sweeter treats to avoid packaged cereal, chocolate bars and ice creams. This is the third of six cook-a-long sessions looking at how we can support our mood with food.

These healthy snacks include dark chocolate – full of magnesium and antioxidants. Dates, which offer a mellow, caramel sweetness with added fibre and minerals. Nuts, which help maintain stable blood-glucose levels with added protein and healthy unsaturated fats. Bananas, which are dense in fibre, prebiotics plus potassium, folate, vitamin C and lots of antioxidants plus they taste delicious.

Balancing our blood glucose helps stabilise our mood and energy which supports our stamina and focus during periods of revision and intense study. It is also essential to enjoy the sweeter things in life sometimes. (more…)

Food for Mood 2: How to make a healthy grain bowl

In our second Food for Mood cookalong we learnt to make a simple recipe to include more wholegrains into our diet. In-tact whole grains, rather than flour-based and processed grains which dominate the western diet, are brimming with prebiotics that support a healthy microbiome which supports our mood and mental health.

Did you know that our gut microbes also produce some of our happy-hormone serotonin and our calming communicator GABA? Our gut (well, our lower intestines to be more specific) is made up of trillions of microbes that can help or hinder us by the species that dominate and how we feed them. The fibre and prebiotics in in-tact wholegrains feed healthier microbial strains which in-turn feed us with the hormones and neurotransmitters we need for a calmer mood and focused motivation. In-tact wholegrains are not the only feeders we can give our guts, a range of colourful beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit can also do the job – alongside healthy proteins and fats to balance.

Wholegrain salad bowls

YOUR Choice: Quinoa or Bulgar Wheat: We’ll be making both!
You could also try: farro, barley, buckwheat, brown or black or red rice, wild rice. Experiment with a new variety each month and batch cook!

  • 40-50g quinoa OR 40-50g cracked bulgur wheat – will provide you with two meals – you could make more

Choice of toppings

Meat-eaters

1 small tin of sardines or mackerel or salmon or anchovies in water or olive oil + fresh parsley. These contain the preformed omega 3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Anti-inflammatory fats that support our gut, brain and immune health.

Vegetarian

1 boiled egg or small pot of cottage cheese or 25g of feta cheese + chives. Healthy protein and nutrient dense, use in small portions.

Vegan

1 tin of mixed beans in water – or any bean of your choice + parsley or chives. Protein dense with more prebiotics for our healthy microbes. Plus key vitamins and minerals and blood-glucose balancing.

Shopping list

  • 1 bag of quinoa or cracked bulgar wheat (your choice: quinoa is gluten free if you are celiac) – this will last you for several meals! If you cook more than you need, you could use as your porridge base the next day with your favourite milk topped with fruit and nuts!
  • 1 bag of baby spinach or mixed salad leaves of your choice (will last 2-3 meals)
  • 1 carrot (will last two meals)
  • ½ cucumber (will last two meals)
  • A bunch of spring onions (these will last a few meals: you can chop and add to any salad or dish)
  • Mixed seeds (can be any you like: or just pumpkin, sesame or sunflower – Sainsburys do a mix mix of sunflower, pumpkin, goji berry and cranberries if you like a bit of sweetness)
  • Vegetable stock cubes or powder (Bouillon is a good brand)
  • 1 small orange
  • 1 lemon or lime
  • 1 small bottle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small bottle of apple cider vinegar (can use a lemon juice if too expensive)
  • 1 pot of cumin powder or seeds
  • Paprika (optional)
  • Chilli flakes (optional)
  • Fresh herbs (optional)
  • 1 pot of honey or maple syrup (or a sweetener you have in stock already)
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Quinoa & Bulgur wheat

  1. Make your stock – you want enough to cover the amount of grain you’re cooking so this will vary.
  2. Soak the quinoa for 20 minutes if you can or rinse thoroughly OR rinse the bulgur wheat in a sieve under the tap for a couple of minutes
  3. Put quinoa or bulgur wheat in a saucepan and pour in pre-made stock with boiling water – about half a thumb above the top of the grain (you can add salt, pepper and dried herbs if no vegetable stock available)
  4. Bring to boil, then put on a simmer
  5. Cover pot and cook: Quinoa 15-20 minutes, Bulgur 12-15 minutes. Taste quinoa after 12 minutes and bulgur after 8 minutes: you want a nutty and soft, easy to chew texture.
  6. If all the water hasn’t evaporated by the time the grain is ready, drain in sieve and keep grain in sieve over a pot until all the water has drained off. You don’t want soggy grains!
  7. Once fully drained, put in mixing bowl.
  8. If you have batched cooked the grains, at this point you can portion up and put in your freezer for up to 3 months or keep in a bowl in your fridge for 2-3 days.
  9. To reheat grain from fresh or frozen, put in saucepan and pour in boiling water from kettle, to just cover the bottom of your saucepan and cook until piping hot – a few minutes. You may need to add a splash of extra water as you go.
  10. It is now ready for the assembly stage.

 Salad

  1. Chop a small section of cucumber into squares
  2. Grate ½ carrot
  3. Take your spinach or baby leaves and finely chop – you can also add tomatoes if you like
  4. Slice spring onion thinly
  5. Chop fresh herbs if using

Dressing options

  • Olive oil dressing for grain and salad: put all the ingredients in a mug or jar and whisk with a fork
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • ½ freshly squeezed orange
  • ½ teaspoon of mustard if you have it
  • ½ teaspoon of honey or maple syrup

Tahini dressing for beans (can drizzle over salad too)

  • 2 large tablespoons of tahini
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • Paprika or dried garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of honey or maple syrup
  • Enough hot water to thin

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients except the hot water in a bowl. Mix with a fork. Slowly add small amounts of hot water, then re-whisk to find the consistency you like.

Garnish for tinned fish

  • Lemon zest (grate lemon on small grater)
  • Chopped spring onions
  • ¼ squeezed lemon
  • Black pepper
  1. Mix garnish in with fish – depending on size of tin you may use all of half and use the rest for tomorrow’s meal.

Beans

  1. Mix beans with the tahini dressing plus any other fresh herbs you like. Mash some of them so they create a partial dip-like texture.
  2. You can use half a tin today and the rest tomorrow

Assemble the dish

  1. Grains: mix in a tablespoon of the seeds, some chopped fresh or a sprinkling of dried herbs, chopped spring onion, cumin powder and any other spices you like with a tablespoon of the salad dressing and salt and pepper to taste. Then put a few tablespoons onto your plate or into your bowl.
  2. Salad: place your salad into colourful sections and drizzle with some of the olive oil dressing.
  3. Topping (or side portion!): place the fish OR egg OR cheese AND/OR beans on or next to the grain
  4. Drizzle the remaining salad dressing or tahini dressing over the dish. Sprinkle a few more seeds and spring onions over the top and serve.

Know your stress signs and ease your exam stress

by Jeongeun Park, Senior Resident

COVID 19 crisis, lockdown, being stuck at home, no parties, social distancing… I know you are already stressed out by the current government’s dos and don’ts. On top, a revision period is coming up and perhaps this makes you even more frustrated. First, it is NORMAL to feel anxious when having exams or essay deadlines to meet. Ok then, you may wonder how to cope with exam-related stress. 

Here are some tips suggested by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) that I find useful to effectively manage my stress level. I know you are a busy person, so I sum up a few important points made.   (more…)

Find your Support

Hi everyone! Khadija here, chair of the BME network, elected by BME students to represent BME students at a university and SU level.

Many students struggle with finding support, and in my role, I particularly find this as an issue for BME students, who often find it difficult to see how to access the university’s services. As such, I’ve become familiar with what is available, and have had some great discussions with the staff behind them already to incorporate the needs of all students, including those from racial and ethnic minorities! How to Find your Support:

1. Student Wellbeing Service

This is your first port of call if you’re struggling, and includes a range of services, from:

Student Wellbeing Advisors, who can help direct you to where you need to go.

TalkCampus app, giving you online peer-support any time of day and night.

– Self-help resources, including the FIKA Covid-19 support app, which is designed to help you learn practical mental and emotional fitness approaches which you can apply to your everyday life.

The Student Counselling Service, including a specific BAME Counselling service run by NILAARI, which the BME Network supported being expanded into the university last year.

– The uni are working with Bristol Drugs Project too and ‘The Drop’ harm reduction service. If you’re thinking about trying drugs or if drug use has become a problem, reach out via email thedrop@bdp.org.uk find them on Instagram above or call 0117 987 6000.

(more…)

Get ahead of worries this World Mental Health Day

Written by Dr Dominique Thompson

Starting university is always a big moment in life, but in 2020 it’s going to be a historic moment too. Living in a new institution, perhaps a new city, in a global pandemic certainly adds an edge to the whole process.  

So if you are feeling a little stressed (which would be entirely normal) help is at hand and you may find the new, free, online course that I helped to create, ‘Being Well Living Well’, very useful indeed.  

(more…)

University Mental Health Day 2019

In support of University Mental Health Day 2019, we talk to students and staff about how they are using their voice to change the future of mental health at the University and beyond. Discover how you too can make a difference, today and always.


“I will be using my voice as the Student Living Officer at the Bristol Students’ Union to ensure that the University of Bristol commits to its duty of care and offers pastoral support to students of all  backgrounds. If you want to find out more, please check out my blog post launching the student wellbeing health strategy” – Vanessa Wilson, Student Living Officer 

At the University of Bristol your voice is valued, which is why your opinion was at the heart of our Mental Health Strategy. Get involved in the next Mental Health Consultation at the end of March. Use your voice to make a change.


“As part of the Black Dog Project, we use our voice to educate young people on a range of topics to do with mental health. Our aim is, through education, to reduce the stigma often associated with these types of conversations amongst young people.

I think it is important to raise our voice about mental health because everyone has mental health. Children need to learn that it is as important to look after their mental mind as it is to look after their bodies.” – Nina Rabbitt, Black Dog Project President, Third Year Student

Want to get involved? Find out more here. Use your voice to make a change.


“Passionate about driving change in our city, I am organising ‘Project WalkToTalk Bristol’ with a team of students from Bristol Medical School. The aim is to make mental health a conversation amongst young people and bring communities together in a positive way over something we all, no doubt experience. The event also raises money for Off The Record (Bristol), a charity and social movement aiming to empower young people in a sustainable way. Join us on 4th May… Let’s do this, together.” – George Cole, Project WalkToTalk Bristol Organiser, Second Year Student 

Attend the event and help beat the stigma associated with mental health.


“Discussions around mental wellbeing are part of everyday life, they  happen wherever you are.” – Carolyn Jones, Student Wellbeing Adviser in the School of Social Sciences and Law 

You are not on your own. There is always a friendly face and listening ear nearby. Find out what services we have, what they do and how they can help you.

 

 

 


 “The Healthy Minds programme supports students to take positive steps to improve the way they feel through physical activity and sport. We’ve found that students have reported an improvement in their wellbeing through involvement in the scheme.” – Peter Burrows, Physical Activity and Health Development Officer

Exercise is good for your mind, as well as your body, participating in our Healthy Minds programme could not be easier. To find out more watch this short video with Isaac who took part in the scheme, read about how Beth got involved and visit the site.

 


Your voice is powerful, use it to shape the future of mental health, today and always! 

World Mental Health Day  

For World Mental Health Day, we’re talking to our students about their experience of mental health and how physical activity and programmes like Healthy Minds has helped them cope with different situations.  

Bethany Hickton is a 25-year-old PhD student in her third year, studying aerospace engineering and cellular and molecular medicine.  

‘It’s pretty intense,’ she says with a laugh. ‘I’d really like to become a chief scientific officer — someone who travels around the world looking at complex scientific issues, and then explains it to government so they can make policy changes.’ 

But her dreams were nearly shattered when she slipped and fell down a flight of steps in her first year.  

‘I’d always been a very hard worker throughout my undergrad and since my A-levels,’ she says. ‘I never stopped, so having to take that time out gave me a lot of anxiety. Also, the fractures were five millimetres from severing my spinal cord. I could have been paralysed from the waist down.’ 

Bethany spent 16 weeks in a spinal brace and, a few months after the fall, she was also diagnosed with clinical depression.  

‘I got PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) coming back onto campus, because that’s where I’d hurt myself. Having to take time out physically really had an impact on me mentally.’ 

Bethany didn’t come from a sporting background and says she’d never have thought of trying sports on her own.  

‘I wasn’t sporty when I was younger – I lived in a small village where there wasn’t a lot of opportunity. People in school also made fun of me about my size, which was difficult to deal with. I really lost confidence, which made me eat more too.’ 

After her fall and her diagnosis, Bethany began seeing a counsellor with the Student Counselling Service where she was referred to the Healthy Minds programme.  

‘They told me about this amazing programme which was all about body confidence and having fun. Pete from Healthy Minds got me to lift weights and, out of nowhere, I was good at it. It was such a joyous moment.’ 

Bethany understands the pressure on young people today to look good, coming from social media, especially platforms like Instagram.  

‘I now judge my body on what it can do, not what it looks like. I can deadlift 80 kilograms, I can walk straight into the weights section of the gym, which used to be full of just guys, in my glittery pink sneakers and I can out-lift lots of them.’ 

She says Healthy Minds helped her to find an activity that really suited her, and she really enjoyed.

‘They helped me take the driving seat on getting healthy. Pete noticed I was good at lifting weights, and he signposted me to the captain of the rugby team.’ She now plays in the women’s rugby team as a  scrum forward.  

What advice would Bethany give new students who have just arrived and are trying to settle in?  

‘Find a group of people that are your people. Try and join different societies – it doesn’t have to be a sporty one, and just try lots of different things. You’ll find the crowd that you can run with.’ 

Express yourself 

Come along to the Indoor Sports Centre tomorrow (Wednesday 10 October) and take part in free exercise classes as well as a workshop with a print artist Annie Nicholson, aka The Fandangoe Kid. 

In 2011, Annie lost her mother and sister in a car crash. ‘Nothing has been the same since. For years I was completely derailed – it was sharing my thoughts in a public space that got me through.’ 

The artist says her public art is also designed to help remove the stigma that still exists around loss, mental health, and happiness.  

Annie will be hosting a workshop for 20 people and will begin by exploring the different concepts of narrative art, and how it can be used to express yourself. There’s even an opportunity for the art you create go on display on campus. 

Places are limited, and booking is essential.