My College Diet

I have always been a picky eater. From a young age, there were things I knew I liked and things I knew I hated.

Things I hated? Lima beans, cheese, milk, and wheat bread were my main hates.  However, I grew up in a house if we didn’t eat what was made for dinner then we didn’t eat that night. So while I didn’t enjoy lima beans, cheese, wheat bread etc I had to eat it. Another important part of my diet as a child was that I grew up in a family of vegetable eaters. We didn’t have just meat, starchy vegetables, and pasta night after night. Green beans, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, peppers, tomatoes…we ate them all.

Not only were my siblings and I exposed to fresh, local produce from a young age, we almost never ate highly processed sugary foods. There was never soda in our house, even before my mother knew to start avoiding high fructose corn syrup. My sister and I never had fruit snacks in our lunches. We never ordered pizza, we never got fast food, and we ate at a restaurant maybe twice a year.

While these choices were mostly based on saving money, they provided a valuable message in terms of our diets as well. What we ate, we put work into. My mother planted a garden, cooked the food herself and we ate the portion that was given to us. Nothing was without effort. We valued the food because it wasn’t an instantaneous treat like many things are these days.

FRESHMAN YEAR: (2011-2012)
I first entered college in the Fall of 2012. As a freshman, I was worried about all the usual things: where are my classes, am I going to make any friends, and how will I avoid the freshman fifteen? And like any other freshman, the first two came naturally. But as I entered the dining hall day after day, I started to realize that eating healthy in college was going to be a challenge.

In a world where money is more important than health, not even the educational institutions we attend have our health as a priority. French fries and burgers were a daily option while things like whole wheat bread and fresh fruits were not offered. Vegetarian and vegan options consisted of unidentifiable casseroles. The “quinoa” is really just rice, the salad bar has iceberg lettuce and creamy salad dressings, and there’s a wall dedicated to sugary drinks.

Day after day I ate the same things. My primarily vegetable based diet combined with my half marathon training had me concerned that I wasn’t eating enough calories to keep me properly fueled. I started researching calorie contents, different fruits and vegetables, and the effects of processed foods. It fascinated me (and annoyed my roommate!) and I wanted to know more.

SOPHOMORE YEAR: (2012-2013)
As I start my second year of school, I have found that I’m less adventurous when it comes to sampling the “meals” provided by the school.

However, I do have a few goals for this year:

  1. Convince the school to put whole wheat bread in the sandwich line.
  2. Try to get more variety into the salad bar line.
  3. Get the food service department to put the ingredients online.

Clearly this isn’t a very ambitious list. Ideally I would like to see our school include organic options, have a weekly farmer’s market for students to shop at, start a student run Food Committee where students can voice concerns, and use some of the old football practice fields to grow our own produce. However, I go to a school of 1600 students. There’s only so much money for improvement.

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