|Hewitt spruces up their options|
In its natural state, my body’s metabolism is essentially equal to that of a 60-year-old woman two days after having triplets. It’s doesn’t really do me any favors. So in order to make it “work for me” I’ve had to do a lot of research and read a lot of articles on what types of eating patterns are most nutritious and help me maintain a healthy weight. It took a lot of experimenting, but eventually I tweaked my diet enough and found a system that works for me. When I was living at home, it was easy to maintain my regimented eating pattern. When your parents pay for groceries and you have a kitchen at your disposal, planning meals, making healthy snacks, and having high quality foods is no problem. Coming in as a first-year, the idea of being dependent on a dining hall horrified me. I thought for sure that a lack of control over exactly what I ate would mean a guaranteed freshman 15…or 20.
However, upon my arrival here, I’ve found that maintaining a healthy way of eating is totally manageable. Even being on a tight budget, with Hewitt and a few groceries every month, it can be done. If you’re worried about your new eating patterns at college, there are three general points that I find really helpful in making sure I’m on track.
Whole foods are the best foods
The first and probably most important thing to keep in mind when eating is that whole foods are the best foods. The bigger the percentage of my diet that comes from foods in their natural state, the happier my body. In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to stay away from things that came from wrappers and packages. The more steps your food took getting from nature to you, the more you probably want to avoid it. Keeping this in mind leads me away from processed carbs found in things like baked goods, breads, pastas, and cereals. A diet without these foods means fewer blood sugar spikes, less inflammation, and a healthier weight. Another plus: when I initially cut these foods out of my system, my skin cleared up and I had more energy.
Protein, and lots of it
The next important thing is protein, and lots of it. I can’t stress enough how dependent I am on protein. It gives you sustenance and gets you to my next meal without that “running on empty” feeling. Best of all, it’s something that is really good for your body, but it’s not vegetables! I try and get a source of meat in all of my meals, and even in my snacks I always try to work it in. Generally with snacks, go to things like nuts (raw almonds and walnuts), greek yogurt, nut butters, or cottage cheese.
Fat is not a foe!
Finally, (and this is something I did not learn until last semester) fat is friend not foe! I really wish there was another word for the healthy fats found in things like olive oil and avocados because the word “fat” has such nasty connotations. In fact, the more research I did on healthy fats, the more beneficial I found them to be. Fats from natural sources like olive oils, nuts, and my favorite, avocados are really good for you and something your body needs. Even a little bit of butter can be a smart choice. Another reason to stick to natural fats is that often when companies make something “low-fat” they replace the fats with artificial sugars. This was great news to me because it meant that I started avoiding “diet” things. The real version tastes better and is better for you, anyway.
Eating at Hewitt
As far as what I actually eat based on these guidelines, it’s pretty easy to do through Hewitt. For example, an ideal day for me would be:
Fruit with cottage cheese, two hard-boiled eggs, a smear of almond butter, turkey sausage or turkey bacon to get in that healthy fat.
I usually stick to the the salad bar for lunch because it’s a good way to get in a lot of vegetables pretty painlessly. I load up with vegetables that I like and top it with chicken if it’s available. Personally, I can’t stand tofu, so if they don’t have chicken I get whatever protein they’re serving in the hot food line. Then I top it with nuts or feta and the regular balsamic vinaigrette.
Generally I go through the hot food line and get whatever protein they have that’s not fried or in a really heavy or syrupy sauce and so far, finding that hasn’t been a problem. Then I get the vegetable they’re serving that day and fill in any holes at the salad bar.
As far as groceries go, I pretty much always keep the fridge stocked with carrots and hummus, dark chocolate (85%), cottage cheese or greek yogurt, walnuts, almonds, and whatever fruit I take out of Hewitt. Between these things, it’s pretty easy to keep myself from feeling hungry.
Susan Harling is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.