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New guide helping international students eat healthy

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Source: University of Canberra

A poor diet is often linked to poor grades.

A poor diet is often linked to poor grades.

A new resource is helping international students at the University of Canberra find and cook healthy and culturally appropriate foods.

The booklet Nutritious meal planning, preparation and cooking advice for international students includes nutrition advice, how to eat healthy on a budget, where to find specialist food outlets, ingredient substitutes and more.

The booklet was developed by nutritionists and dietitians from the University’s Faculty of Health and International Student Support Service with feedback from international students.

“The idea came from an honours project a nutrition student completed last year on food insecurity for international students,” Dr Tanya Lawlis, Assistant Professor in Food Science and Nutrition, said.

The study found a number of international students had little or no food literacy skills in their first six months at university. 

“This ranged from not having cooked for anyone before or not knowing what local ingredients they could substitute in a traditional dish — to not having enough to eat.”

The booklet aims to give international students the confidence and skills they need to cook good nutritious food within their budget, as well as tips of where to buy it.

“We enjoy a rich and diverse campus culture with over 4,500 international students from over 107 different countries. However, the taste and texture of Australian food can be very different to what international students are used to eating in their home country,” Dr Lawlis said.

“We know a poor diet is often linked to poor grades, so helping students make healthy food choices will also improve their academic performance,” she added.

Students can practise their culinary skills with two cooking classes organised this semester also providing valuable workplace experience opportunities.

Master of Nutrition and Dietetics student Cathy Wong will help run the class as part of her clinical placement, with students using fresh fruit and vegetables provided by the Belconnen Fresh Food Market.

“I was in the same position when I arrived in Canberra from Hong Kong last year. It took me a while to find where I could buy ingredients and I didn’t know the markets were so close to campus. The booklet is a great resource for international students and will be very helpful,” the 24-year-old said.

The guide, sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance, also includes food safety tips, information on understanding food labels and a weekly meal planner.


Contact the University of Canberra media team: 

Amanda Jones 0409 140 415

Claudia Doman: 0408 826 362