Lauren Lucien, author of Student Brain Food: Eat Well, Study Better, answers RiverOnline's questions.
What was it that led you to write Student Brain Food?
"When I was in university, I saw a lot of mature students and they had homemade packed lunches and it wasn’t just sandwiches, it was food that I hadn’t seen before. So I was just thinking about how much I spent on takeaways and vending machines. I took my tips from there and it made me think that I needed to write down recipes I knew. I also spoke to Dr Opara, the principal lecturer for nutrition at Kingston University and we teamed up and that was it, it became Student Brain Food."
What year were you in when you wrote the book? How did you become good at cooking?
"I was in my final year of university when I wrote the book. I always collected recipes and I always baked. When I got married, I had to cook a lot more so I wasn’t just cooking for one; we both liked different things so I had to really expand on what I could make."
Has your life changed since you became a published author?
"Yes, I’m now doing what I have always wanted to do. I have my own private tuition business but I have scaled that back to become a full time writer. I just really love the life of variety and I am one hundred per cent happy that I got a degree in creative writing with English literature. To actually be a writer and be published is amazing. I mean it’s awesome to be sharing a shelf with Jamie Oliver in Sainsbury’s. My life has changed because since that point I have carried on dreaming bigger."
What would you say is the best feature in your book?
"The best feature in the book is that it blends together food and the student brain. So it’s really looking at both aspects. It’s not just your average cook book, it tells you the kind of nutrients that are in what you’re eating and it also tells you how to make things last longer. It has another good feature- Food for Thought by Dr Opara, where she gives a nutritional breakdown."
What recipe would you say helped you with dealing with stress? What advice do you give students suffering from stress in your book?
"Don’t keep it to yourself, talk to somebody. My book is very social, there is a whole section called Share the Love which is food that you can eat with other people. University is financially stressful, you’ve got deadlines and you are staying up all night to finish an essay. I really feel that being social, talking to people and trusting people with your problems is really important so I would take note of the Share the Love section."
What advice would you give first year students to help them plan and budget for their meals?
"There is a good section in the book called Forward Thinking and Planning for Success and I would say the main answer to this question is planning. Don’t wait until you’ve got no food in the house; plan. You can make a food planner for what you’re going to have. Buy what you need, do a weekly shop rather than a monthly shop, take the money out for your food and give it to your mum to pay into your account. Don’t shop on an empty stomach, it is a big mistake or you will be coming home with Monster Munch and everything, trust me."
What advice do you wish someone gave you about planning and budgeting food when you were at University?
"I wish someone had told me about portion sizes. Eat until you feel full. When you feel like you want to start comfort-eating, try and get away from the fridge and get with people. Food brings people together and I wish I had known more about that. I wish someone had told me how cheap it is to actually cook yourself rather than getting a takeaway."