I'm a nutrition and health major. People who knew me at the beginning of high school probably wouldn't believe it. I was one of those girls who could (and did) eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. It wasn't until the last couple of years in high school that I dipped my toe into the pool of healthy eating.

I'm not a crazy health nut, and I pride myself in that. I love food, but I love it more for the way that it can affect your quality of life. I don't want to go on a rant about giving up cupcakes (because that will probably never 100% happen), I just want to discuss how the hardest part of making healthier choices was not limiting my cupcake intake.

The Situation

pickle, salt, herb, oil, garlic, vinegar
Bernard Wen

Everyone is familiar with the stereotype of the girl who orders salads all the time and asks for sugar-free drinks at the coffee shop. No one wants to be that girl, because that girl is just worried about her weight, she's watching her waistline, and she's counting her carbs.

Most would think that she just needs to let loose and eat whatever, right? But why did she really choose an option out of the healthy choices section? Maybe the answer isn't as complicated as it seems. Maybe she's got nothing to hide.

My Perspective

juice, pasture, apple
Annabel Epstein

When I first started to think more about what I was eating, it was like entering an alternate universe. I was learning all this new information about something that had always been a part of my life. There was more to food than just staying alive.

I mean, I always knew that, but I never thought about how what you eat can change the way you feel. Obviously, eating a big bowl of candy makes most people sick, but little things like eating more fruits and veggies can have just as big of an effect. It feels like such a secret. Eating good, healthy food makes you feel good and, well, healthy.

It took me a long time to really understand that. With all of the cultural influences and ideas about what healthy looks like, and with all the different opinions and perceptions of health it was hard to get some focus. Thanks to high school health classes and the influences of sports teams, I got a hold of a little bit. 

For most people, the goal is to get skinny and lose fat. That was not my goal when I first started thinking about my diet. I was tired of being tired. I didn't want to be the reason I was in a bad mood. That was my main motivation.

Making Adjustments

beer, tea, coffee
Becky Hughes

Coming into college, I was excited to be out on my own and have even more freedom when it came to my diet. I thought it would be easier, I could have more options and control the kinds of food I would have in my dorm room. I was wrong. I traded having more control over my food for having more pressure to conform to the eating habits of my peers and the typical college student. Almost everywhere I went, I felt the pressure to adjust my habits and choices to fit the mold. 

I did great the first semester. I made good choices and kept healthy snacks in my dorm. I went to the rec center a few days a week. I didn't give in to the peer pressure to eat greasy pizza and fried foods covered in gravy. I even managed to stay away from coffee my first couple of months. But, there was no going back after that first sip of coffee. 

It was hard to constantly push against the majority. I felt judged and different and alone. Sharing the same kind of food is something that connects people without anything even being said. It felt like making a healthy choice made others uncomfortable and even offended some people. So I would give in every once in a while. It took me a long time to learn how to navigate healthy eating in such a powerful food culture.

Now, I choose healthy options with less than half the thought I used to need and portion size is almost second nature. It's taken a lot of adjusting to get to this point, but it's so worth the feeling of a happy body. Getting used to different foods was hard too, but exploring all the different healthy options has been fun. I've got some new favorites and some old favorites (*cough cough* cupcakes), that will always stick around.