Food and nutrition


Food is important for our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. What we eat fuels our body, affects our mood, and even impacts how we do in school. Food is social and tied to our identities, cultures, and communities. Sharing a meal with others can nourish our body, mind, and spirit.

Many university students find it challenging to have enough money, time, and energy to make or buy food. Knowledge of how to prepare quick and easy meals or even where to find traditional ingredients are also factors that may affect students’ food choices. It is important to consider the fact that there are also broader social, economic, and political systems and structures that affect students’ access to safe, adequate, personally-acceptable food and care.

Learn more strategies to help you eat well, broaden your food and nutrition knowledge, and access support for food and nutrition-related concerns at UBC.

Healthy eating

How can I eat healthily?

Food provides us with energy and nutrients that help our bodies function. It can be helpful to have a basic understanding of nutrition concepts, including the role of specific macro- and micronutrients, Canada’s Food Guide eating habits that prevent chronic diseases, and how to read food labels.

However, eating well is more than just about food, nutrients and balance. It is important to recognize that there are factors beyond the individual that affect what we eat. Eating healthily is also about where, when, why, and how you eat.

The diversity in the cultures and heritage of UBC students extends to the ways in which we eat and connect with food. There is no single best way to eat healthily—Canada’s Food Guide is just one way of looking at eating well. Your food choices may also include traditional or cultural foods which may not be captured in Western perspectives of what is considered healthy eating. The sharing and enjoyment of diverse foods with others enhances your relationship with food and is equally important in the process of eating healthily.

How do I eat well on a budget?

Browse money-saving strategies to help your food budget last. Below are some ways to get started:

Cooking and meal planning

I’m new to cooking on my own. Where do I start?

Cooking on your own for the first time can be intimidating. There are many ways to start.

  • Go on a free virtual grocery store tour
    Join UBC nutrition students on a virtual grocery store tour as they teach you how to navigate a grocery store, read labels, and choose foods that fit into your budget.
  • Learn from others
    Attend a food-based workshop on campus with different student clubs and UBC groups, like the UBC Cooking Club.
  • Practice, practice, practice
    Check out tips from the UBC Food Services folks on learning how to cook and read these 5 tips from a fellow student on cooking as a beginner

How can I save time on meal planning and preparation?

Life as a student is busy. Balancing academics along with other responsibilities and aspects of student life can make it hard to find time to put together a nourishing meal. Below are some tips you can try:

  • Make a list to stay on track
    Before going grocery shopping, write down the items you need and group them based on where you find the items in the store (e.g., bakery, fruits) to save time and reduce impulsive purchases.
  • Stock up on kitchen staples
    Find which ingredients are staples in your diet and keep them available for when you need to quickly put a meal together. 
  • Order groceries online
    If you don’t have time, order ahead and pick up your groceries in stores. Many grocery stores offer this service for free or for a small fee.
  • Meal prep or batch cook with a friend
    Check out 11 meal prep ideas for tasks you can do ahead of time. Double the portions when you make a meal. Invite your friends and have each person take on a different task at the same time to speed up the process.

Resources and support

What if I don’t have enough money for food?

30 to 40% of UBC students report having challenges accessing safe, adequate, personally-acceptable and nutritious food. Food insecurity disproportionately affects international students, graduate students, queer and trans communities, as well as individuals who identify as IBPOC. You are not alone. Below are some places to get started if you find yourself having to make tough choices around food due to financial barriers.

  • Connect with your Enrolment Services Advisor (ESA). If you don’t have enough money for food, your ESA can help you with budgeting, access to emergency funds, or other types of financial assistance.
  • UBC Meal Share is a pilot program for students experiencing financial barriers to accessing adequate food with the opportunity to receive direct funds to their UBCcard or a grocery store gift card.
  • Emergency food relief is available on campus through the AMS Food Bank and student group initiatives such as Sprouts Free Meals initiative and the community fridge. You can also find local food banks near you off campus.

Learn more about food security as well as food and financial resources through UBC Food Hub.

I have specific dietary needs. Where can I get help?

Everyone’s food choices can look different depending on their specific dietary needs. Whether it’s celiac disease, plant-based eating, food allergies, or religious dietary needs, there are resources to support you.

Below are a few example resources available to UBC students:

  • If you are a varsity athlete, read helpful guides developed by the sport dietitian at UBC Athlete Nutrition.
  • For students looking for Halal foods, the UBC Muslim Student Association offers a Halal Food Guide (pdf).
  • If you live in residence, connect with the dietitian in Residence.
  • For other specific dietary questions, connect with a dietitian.

How can I connect with a dietitian?

Dietitians are trained professionals who can help you find strategies to eat well according to your unique dietary needs while considering cultural and food traditions. If you need more support around food and nutrition, dietitians are here to help you in person, over the phone, or online.

  • UBC Residence Dietitian
    If you are a student living in residence, contact the dietitian in Residence to discuss a food allergy, intolerance, nutrition-related medical condition, or other concerns.
  • Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC
    If you are a British Columbia resident, you can call 811 (or 711 for the hearing impaired) to speak with a registered dietitian. They are available by phone Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm PT. You do not need a referral from your healthcare provider. You can also find general food and nutrition information online.
  • Find a dietitian in British Columbia
    Search up BC dietitians by their location and specialty areas, or find nutrition experts across Canada through Dietitians of Canada.
  • AMS/GSS Student Health Plan
    All UBC students under the AMS/GSS Student Health Plan can submit claims of $20 per visit to see a dietitian, to a maximum of $400 per policy year. You will need a physician referral to qualify for this health benefit.

I want to learn more about food, nutrition, and the relationship with food and body. Where do I start?

We’re building out more resources and programming to support students’ learning around topics about food and nutrition, as well as one’s relationship with food and body.

In the meantime, check out these starting points: