Between freshman and senior year, a lot changes: your major (high hopes of being an engineering major? Nah, you prefer free time), your school supplies (who needs notebooks when you can have wine?), and most importantly your eating habits (what were you even thinking freshman year?).
As a freshman, college eating seems like a refreshing new land filled with unhealthy opportunities. Your parents aren’t watching so you can eat whatever you want, right?
Now, let’s travel back to your first year of college. For breakfast, you head to one of campus’ all-you-can-eat dining halls. You load your plate with all the eggs, bacon, and hash browns that will fit, and top it off with a generous dollop of ketchup. If a plate full of eggs doesn’t strike your fancy, it’s okay because you can gobble down a bowl (or two) of Frosted Flakes or Lucky Charms to fuel you for the day.
After three back-to-back classes, you might find yourself once again at an all you can eat dining hall surrounded by 100 of your closest freshman friends. As you enter, you see the salad bar and head over to grab your first course: a mix of iceberg lettuce and spinach and maybe a couple veggies to top it off. But that wasn’t what you were really craving, so you get some pizza, pasta, and maybe a cookie or two.
In between lunch and dinner, you might think about the gym or starting the piles of homework your teacher has so lovingly assigned, but instead pig out on some snacks you bought at Wawa, while binge watching the last season of Breaking Bad.
At dinner, thinking about your previous meal choices, you decide to be “healthy” and throw some veggies on your cheeseburger, and wash it down with some diet coke.
Fast forward three years. You now know that the freshman (and sophomore and junior) fifteen is real.
After rolling out of bed promptly at 10:30 am, you take a hot shower, fix up your favorite tea, and eat a granola bar before going to your 400-level writing seminar class. Ah, the beauty of a liberal arts college.
Midafternoon you have lunch. You find yourself back in your room, ready to eat, exhausted from all that writing. You need something refreshing, something sustainable, and something yummy: a smoothie prepared by you, for you. You toss in some strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and maybe even some kale. You top it off with a sprinkle of chia seeds and you’re ready to go.
Sometime before dinner, you might have some pretzels or carrots and hummus, but more often than not, it might just be an piece of fruit from your fridge.
Dinner is where you let yourself go. You head for a grab-and-go sandwich, or maybe you find enough money in your budget to order in some sushi or a burrito. Being a second semester senior, you’ve got to load up for wherever the night leads you. Two-for-one rum and cokes are calling your name.
Moral of the story: you mature. You realize that dining hall food gets old, and you learn what’s better for you, your schedule, and your body. It takes time, but you get there. Freshmen are at the beginning of the wild ride that is college, but by senior year, the real world is just on the other side of graduation. Why not start your transition a little early with some mindful eating and a healthy choice here and there?