Welcome to College!

Land of the frats and home of the all nighters. Where selves are discovered and the best memories are those that we cannot remember. Where Freshman Foodies will find their tribe...

Freshman year is all about experiencing new things and experimenting with all aspects of life so that you can, in time, figure out where you're headed. A major proponent of the first- year experience is the food, from navigating your way through the dining hall to finding the cheapest off-campus eats when you have a bad case of the munchies. I'm not here to tell you the best spots because, honestly, I don't know what they are. I couldn't tell you what section of the cafeteria is best, whether Domino's trumps Papa John's, or where the best hangover food is found. I wish I could, but the past is the past and one can only move forward (so you better believe I'll be scoping out the best dives with y'all this year and stealing some meal swipes!).

While I cannot give you the places, I can tell you why I'm writing this. I'm not always a serious person, but you've caught me in my feels (lucky you). For the first semester of my freshman year I struggled with an eating disorder--- I felt alone, I felt undeserving of the experiences that everyone else was enjoying. And, yes, I did want to take part on those 2a.m. pizza runs--- but I didn't let myself. I tried to hide the fight until it couldn't be hidden any longer, and when that happened I literally dug myself a cave in the library and missed out on more. I was afraid to seek support, but looking back on that thought today, I wonder what my freshman year experience could have looked like if I had. So, I write this to encourage all you **excited/ scared/ nervous/ anxious/ buzzed/ homesick/ dog-sick/ lonely/ popular/ tired/ thriving** first- years to embrace it all: from the food to the support, when the food seems to make means worse.

This year is going to fly by. I know you've heard that before, but it cannot be said enough to express the truth. I give you these tips to make what should be your best year yet exactly that... buckle up!

Dear Freshman Foodies,

Be Curious

Every time you go to the dining hall, try something new. Chick-fil-A is great and all, but you'll have that for as long as you live. Sit with someone new, sit with a group, make the meal a social event. There are memories waiting to be made at those tables, and none of you are an exception to making them!

Be Adventurous

Explore campus eateries other than the dining hall (they more than likely accept swipes/points!). I didn't know that there was a place dedicated to grilled cheese until I was four months in, and I had NO clue milkshakes were a 24 hour thing. Be curious and try them all, I'll be waiting to hear what you've discovered!

Be Fueled

Don't skip breakfast. Yeah, yeah, I'm being mom now, but I have plenty of reasons to back this up. One, your 8:00a.m. or 9:00a.m. will drag on longer than they already seem to if you don't fuel up before. Two, the dining halls are typically pretty empty in the mornings giving you some breathing room and a great opportunity to procrastinate. Third and most importantly, campus breakfasts are the ISHH. I've seen pictures of stacks on stacks (on stacks) of pancakes, the fluffiest omelettes, and loaded hash browns... they made my mouth water then and I cannot WAIT to finally satisfy those cravings. As Hoodie Allen says, "Three square meals homie gotta have breakfast."

Be Kind to Yourself

Stock up on snacks and take them with you. There will be times when you have to go to the library right after class but, whoops, the hunger strikes again and you'll end up walking a mile back to your dorm and back again to the library. Save yourself from hanger, use your points where you can to get easily portable eats, and thank me later. Another snacking 101 tip: put a bag of Cheez-Its next to your pillow with a reminder note to eat them after you get back from a night out... yeah, you'll need it.

Be Excited, Not Afraid

Forget everything and anything about the "Freshman 15." That's a label only put in place to intimidate you even more. Weight should never be emphasized in that way and your body asks for what it wants (and deserves). Do not let this irrational fear keep you from experiencing Chocolate Cobbler Tuesdays or Chicken Finger Fridays.

Be Supportive

If you can't do it for yourself, do it knowing you're supporting a cause. There will be dozens of fundraisers held at on campus restaurants supporting organizations that may hit close to home, or that you may even be a part of! Take advantage of this opportunity to give... you're receiving some fantastic grub and helping even better people all at once. There's no need to feel guilty for eating (ever!!), but especially not when you make a difference doing it. Also, sorority sistaz --- get together for these philanthropy events and get. those. points. ;)

There are so many opportunities I wish I made the most of last year and so much I am excited for y'all to experience. Do me a favor and live it up this year in all the ways, but take care of yourself first. Food is fuel and makes way to some of the greatest relationships you'll ever have. If you or someone you know are struggling with an eating disorder,  know you are not alone and there is help right around the corner. Look for resources on campus such as free counseling and physicals. Find a group of people that makes doing what seems impossible so worth it. Reach out to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) hotline (1-800-931-2237).

So, dear Freshman Foodies (and all others),

You are too worth it to leave freshman year anything but satisfied.