Given how outspoken I am about my undying love for food, it’s no wonder people constantly ask if I’m even trying to maintain “healthy eating habits” (whatever this means) especially as a college freshman subject to dining halls (……..) and the greatest food megalopolis on this planet. I thought I’d share some thoughts on how to best practice getting into that healthy mindset when there are so many distractions that can and often do prevent us from doing so. These are just some tips that I find helpful for myself, so I can’t guarantee they’re useful or relevant to you; however, hopefully you’ll at least find it a good read and please let me know your own eating habits that have been working out for you!
- Eat a big, heaping, delicious breakfast. Seriously, if I was (god forbid) forced to pick my favorite kind of meal, it would be breakfast/brunch, hands down. It’s versatile, energizing, incorporates some of my all-time favorite foods, and cross-culturally delicious (looking at you, 油条, and you, shakshuka). Breakfast/brunch offerings at Columbia generally leave much to be desired, so I usually resort to taking advantage of swipes for “express breakfast” at one of our dining halls (choose any 4 of a variety of individual-container cereals, half-pint milk cartons, mini Chobanis, muffins, etc.), stealing bananas, almond milk, and dried fruit from another one of our dining halls, and whipping up something alongside. Here’s a semi-typical snap of what my breakfast might look like:
Presenting: (1) a bowl of one of my favorite cereals of all time, Kashi’s Go Lean! Crunch (SERIOUSLY life-changing–not too sweet, satisfyingly crunchy clusters of high-protein whole grains), topped with one ripe banana and about five sliced dried figs, served with almond milk, (2) some gluten-free oat-cranberry cookie balls (yummy, filling, and healthy), and (3) one apricot-oatmeal muffin(subbed in gluten-free wheat flour for this).
I also love experimenting, particularly with oatmeal, as it’s quick, there’s infinite variations of it, and filling. Some of my favorite recipes are: apple pie oatmeal,peanut butter banana (the ever-dynamic duo), and a variety of overnight versions, like this scrumptious blueberry banana version or a fig and cinnamon option. If you’re pressed for time, check out this post on the ever-effective overnight oat phenomenon!
Whatever you choose for your breakfast, try to eat it, first and foremost. Your body craves energy and good nutrition, and it craves it most at the start of the day. It prevents you from over-eating later in the day (take it from someone who knows) when your digestive processes slow down, adding instead of burning extra fat.
- Be conscious of everything you eat. I’m also a big believer in everything in moderation. You can have that brownie, but not that other brownie. If you had a starchy lunch, try to cut down on the rice/pasta/bread products for dinner. It’s better, obviously, to overload on greens and fruit–go crazy if you’d like.
- Be disciplined during the weekdays and let loose on the weekends. Any and all food crawls you see glorified on this blog happen during the weekends only because a) otherwise I’d explode, b) schoolwork consumes my soul the rest of the week #ColumbiaProblems, and c) again, I’d explode.
- Listen to your body. Resisting temptation, in whatever form it may be, is one of the most difficult things in the entire world. But you and your body are much smarter than you may believe–be attentive when it’s telling you you’re full (usually before you’re even fully aware), when it doesn’t like something, when you’re feeling lethargic from what you’re eating.
- Remember that nutrition is not a religion. As this is a food blog and not a health/fitness blog, it’s futile for me to preach that “fat doesn’t equal happiness and neither does skinny,” but nothing, especially not your favorite foods to munch on, should stop you from being your happiest you. An awareness of your health is first and foremost, and a love of your body and the food you eat can only boost the love you cultivate for yourself.
Above all, I think it’s of utmost importance to remember that your body is your own and no one else’s–you have the control and power to treat it right, an immensely remarkable thing. Happy eating!