Dear Tory: Help! I don't know what to eat at school.
I've just graduated from high school and I'm scared out of my brain about going to college because of the food. I was wondering if you have any advice, insight, anything to save me from dreading the food. I currently try to eat as clean as I can, but I know my school doesn't have quinoa, chia seeds and avocados at my leisure! Ahh!
Hey College Go-er,
Chill girl. College is going to be an overwhelmingly fun and evolutionary experience for you-- don't sweat the small stuff. If you slow down and stay present, listen to your body (aka don't stuff your exhaustion/anxiety/insecurities/excitements with Oreos and alcohol) and rely on your intuition, you're going to be absolutely fine.
There's a practice intuitive eating specialists often use with (very) overweight children where the parent can no longer tell the child what to eat. For every meal, the parent/caretaker provides a normal meal and dessert at the same time, not placing special emphases on anything offered. Sure, the kid chooses dessert for a while. But, once the dessert isn't so forbidden anymore it loses it's appeal. After a few weeks, the child regains his nutritional intuition and starts choosing foods that his body is telling him he needs... and all is well and balanced again.
Lucky for you, this applies to college students too. Even luckier, you have the ability to understand and notice when you feel drained, bloated, tired, unfocused. Pay attention and you'll know when you need to clean up what you ingest. Other times, enjoy the tasty stuff. Knowing it's available every day should inspire you to eat it only when you really want it-- not to eat it just because it's there.
OK, so day-to-day meals. While you can't control the menu, you can control what you choose. You will absolutely have rice, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, beans, lean meats, roasted veggies and salads. I bet you'll even have avocados at the salad bar! Joy.
**A note about rice**: Somewhere along the line we all decided carbs were the devil. Hi, you need carbs. And all carbs are not created equally. Carbs such as rice, millet, quinoa and farro contain the bran, endosperm and germ-- hence why we call them 'whole,' they've got all their parts still.
- When you eat a whole grain, in it's whole form, the fats, fibers, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals are in perfect, beautiful proportions to digest most effectively. With the support of the fiber, fats and protein-- the sugar from the carbs do not spike your blood sugar so drastically. Other examples of 'good carbs' that contain fat and fiber are vegetables, beans, fruits.
- When you eat a white grain, the carbs are not supported and they rush into your system-- causing you to have a high, then a crash. The blast of 'quick energy,' or glucose, from the sugar is shocking to the system and can cause health complications.
- Processed grains, even whole ones, have been ground up and mixed with other BS to create the desired texture, color and taste of your bread/chips/cakes/cookies.
Point is, brown and black rice is acceptable. Eat it.
NEXT. I did a little snooping and found that it's OK to have a mini fridge in your dorm. You can also have a mini blender! With your fridge and blender, the smoothie possibilities are endless. Keep some greens and fresh fruit in your fridge. Keep some raw nuts, chia seeds, green powders, and whatever else to float your boat on your shelves-- and you've got yourself at least one bangin', packed-with-nutrition meal a day.
1. Start the day with WATER. If you can add some lemon juice in there for detoxifying and stimulating your gut, bonus points.
2. Before you do anything, give yourself 5-10 minutes to chill and regroup before leaving the dorm. Take 10 deep breaths, listen to a meditation audio, jump on your bed-- just make sure you feel like you've collected all your parts (physical, mental and energetic) before flying out the door.
3. Continue to drink water all day. Want clearer skin, less bloat, more energy? Water. To keep it simple, aim for 2 liters of water a day (imagine two of those big, nasty soda bottles).
4. Try to eat 70 percent cleansing, clean foods-- 30 perfect other stuff.
6. As best as you can, get to bed before 11pm on school nights. Getting up early to study is a better choice than staying up really late. Your circadian rhythm ain't no joke-- and it'll cause you lots of stress, anxiety, fatigue, acne, weight gain.. if you're constantly fudging with it. (PS. After 11 your body thinks "oh cool, we're staying up all night' and gives you a second wind.)
7. Work out! Burn off stress, gift yourself some endorphins. A mix of weights, intramural sports, runs around campus, dance, yoga and just being *outside* will make for a delicious cocktail of health.
Here are some other helpful resources:
And the previously linked, Liver-Loving for Weight loss.
Hearts. Kick butt out there!