So, this post started out as advice on how to make better food choices during your time at college, since it is often a difficult transition to go from being under the watch of your parents to making decisions on basically everything on your own. Now with the presence of COVID-19 and the new ‘normal’ (is anyone else as tired of hearing that phrase as I am?), I decided I would make this a two-for-one kind of thing. The concept is pretty similar between the two. Going off to college and living in quarantine/isolation/social distancing introduce a whole slew of stresses and anxiety triggers. Whether it is the stresses of new people, new experiences, and not having your parents there to help guide you in your decision making process that comes with freshmen year; or it is the stresses that come with the uncertainty of COVID-19, not having a job, worrying about the health and well-being of your loved ones, or having your everyday schedule completely thrown, your body will respond to stress the same way.
When things get stressful your body craves those ‘junk food’ options, and it becomes a viscous cycle; you get triggered by a stress I said above(or another one because the list is endless) and so you reach for the bag of chips or the pint of ice cream, and then you get down on yourself for making that choice, then life steps back in so you need another bag of chips or chocolate bar, and on and on. So, I am going to share with you a list of things you can do to help you make better choices and hopefully help you combat those stressful moments, while still living the college life or the quarantine life, or just plain old life. You can keep these in mind when walking into the dining hall, walking into your kitchen, or heading into the grocery store.
- Fill one plate up with veggies. This can be a salad or some raw veggies. You can choose cooked veggies but try to limit the amount of the cooked veggies if prepared in a lot of oils and butters.
- Fruit with every meal. A cup or half a bowl berries or diced melons. An apple, orange, or banana.
- Opt for water. You can also have your coffee, if you are like me and can’t go a day without it. But limit the sugar/sweetener in it if you drink multiple cups day, that way you aren’t taking in calories through sugar in your beverages.
- Lean protein options like chicken and turkey will be the best animal protein go-to.
- Fish and other seafood are good options when you are bored of chicken and turkey.
- If you want a burger or pizza try to double the veggies you get at that mealtime. You will still enjoy the burger and pizza but will fill up more on the ‘better options’ so you don’t overeat and go back another slice or another handful of fries and back again and again.
And just remember to be kind to yourself. Don’t approach mealtime or snacking with a “I can’t” mindset, as this will only make decisions harder. Feeling restricted will box you in and make every choice you make feel robotic, and that isn’t how life should be. If you approach your meals and snacks with the mindset that you are choosing ‘X’ because you know it will make you feel better that will give you a sense of empowerment; knowing you are in control of what you eat and thus your health and your life. Freshmen year and quarantine are hard enough times in themselves and you don’t need to add to the already stressful moments by getting down on yourself for food choices.