You can watch my YouTube video on this topic here: The STRUGGLE of Eating in College
Growing up I was an animal lover. I would hysterically cry if I saw a dead deer on the side of the road, or an animal dying in a movie. When I was around 10 or 11, I started to become more aware. I became conscious about what I was eating and questioned where exactly my food was coming from, how it was made, etc. One night during dinner, I was holding a very rare cheeseburger in my hand and it dawned on me. I couldn’t take another bite. The dripping blood and the gamey taste left on my mouth made my stomach turn. This moment sounds so dramatic, but I swear, I remember it clearly.
I decided to stop eating red meat. For whatever reason, chicken has never bothered me. From that point going forward, I started to struggle with eating. I was conscious about everything that was on my plate and liked to eat foods a certain way. Large portions freak me out and the thought of my food not being clean turns me off. I don’t have a huge appetite and often have to remind myself that I need to eat. However, I consider myself to be a snacker. I enjoy tasting and eating a small variety of portions during a meal. Appetizers are my go-to.
To top it off, I have a weak stomach. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’m gluten or lactose intolerant, but it’s definitely sensitive when it comes to digesting those foods. Can you see the complex dilemma here?
When I got to college, eating in a dining hall was a bit of a struggle. First of all, it is called “The Hickey Dining Hall.” Immediately the name made me cringe. The vegetarian station tasted the same every day, and the other options never appealed to me. The first few weeks I only ate bagels, salads, and fries; so healthy, right?
I hated going there to eat. I became so stubborn and only ate what I knew I would be comfortable with. I refused to try anything else and didn’t bother to even look around much. After about a month or so, eating pretty much the same three things got boring and I started to get sick of the fries and bagels. At this point, I started to take note of what other people were eating and slowly broke away from what I was used to. I discovered the “hickey hacks;” a list of hacks that included mixing certain foods together, using the microwave to warm up wraps, white rice with different sauces, and so on. By the second semester freshman year, after trying some new things, I had options in my diet that didn’t include only fries, vegetables and bagels (Thank God).
Living off-campus my junior year posed yet another challenge: I didn’t know how to cook. I have been blessed with a mom that loves to cook. She’s always happy to be in the kitchen and is really good at it. I lived off box mac and cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a few weeks.
Something about cooking freaks me out a bit. Maybe it’s the multitasking, or the idea that I can burn down the house at any moment. Like anyone else, I simply feel uncomfortable when I have to do something that I know I’m not good at. But, that’s not a way to live.
Once again, I FINALLY came to yet ANOTHER realization (similar to my freshman year epiphany): I had to make an effort. I had become so used to sticking to my usual foods and not even bothering to try anything new, or different that I might like. I searched recipes, bought foods in the grocery store that I thought I might like, and asked my mom to tell me how to make certain things. When home from break, I always try to learn something from my mom to bring back to school.
Moral of the story: Don’t get stuck in a routine if you aren’t happy. Especially when it comes to food– make an effort.