Eating healthy can be hard, but when you’re a student, it’s exceptionally hard. With the stress of assignments due, commitments, and exams, it’s a wonder how many students have time to eat at all—let alone eat healthy.  Although it may be quickest and cheapest to pop by Dairy Queen for some fries, we all know that you can’t live on the fast food diet.

To be and stay healthy is obviously not easy, or else everyone would be. Many people don’t know what you actually need to eat to sustain a healthy body. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that with each meal, your plate should consist of half fruits and vegetables, a quarter carbohydrates, and a quarter protein. Obviously this isn’t completely true for all people. For example, if you are trying to build or sustain muscle, you will probably intake more protein. For the most part though, this is a good guideline for what you should eat.

Fruits and vegetables are easy—you know what those are: apples, oranges, broccoli, spinach, strawberries, etc. These provide antioxidants and vitamins you need to live such as Vitamin C or A. Studies have shown that many fruits and vegetables can decrease risk of heart disease and even cancer.

Carbohydrates, or as most of us call them, “carbs”, are a little more tricky. Carbs provide energy to fuel our bodies, but an excess of carbs can cause weight gain. To complicate things further, there are “good” and “bad” carbs. Good carbs are those such as carbs from things such as beans and vegetables. These good carbs contain fiber and are not refined to strip them of their benefits. The bad carbs are those from your Dairy Queen fries, which are refined to the point where the fiber and other good things are stripped from them. The bad carbs are the ones you want to avoid or make an occasional thing.

Last but not least is your protein. Protein can be hard to get for many people, especially vegetarians and vegans. Because protein’s main source is from meat, vegetarians and vegans must obtain their protein from beans, legumes, tofu, etc. Protein can also come from eggs, cheese, poultry, fish, and of course red meats. Proteins are important to maintain structure in your body, as well as immune function and pH (acidity) balance.

With all these things to keep in mind, cost is also a factor in living healthy, especially on a student budget. Deep-fried goodness is most often much cheaper than its green partner. A good idea is instead of eating out all the time, going to the grocery store and packing your own lunch, which can often be healthier and even more financially friendly. Eating healthy, along with an active lifestyle can make you feel better in spite of your stress, and even help you live longer. Now that’s something worth sinking your teeth into.