For most students, coming to college for the first time means freedom. Some use this freedom to stay out late and dance until 3 am, while others choose not to make their bed for weeks at a time (or even the entire semester). And then, there’s me. I found my freedom while wandering through the dining hall, clutching my student ID card with unlimited meal swipes close to my heart.

For the first time, I could fully choose my breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, snacks, portions and meal times. It was like I was a kid in a candy store. Well, actually, I was a kid in a dining hall. I eyed the gleaming array of greasy pizzas, the freshly stocked salad bar, the grill loaded with chicken and the popping stir-fry station (no pun intended); then, I saw it. The soft-serve ice cream machine.

I became mesmerized by the chocolate and vanilla cream swirling behind the plexiglass: the lever begging to be pulled. And so it was. I found freedom in unlimited swirly cones topped with chocolate sprinkles.
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Now, normally I would only have ice cream once a day, if that. But as my ice cream habit became more frequent, I began to wonder: what would happen if I replaced every meal with ice cream? I mean, why not? I’m an adult and I can do whatever I want, right? My inner five year-old was thrilled with this idea. Hell, my current eighteen year-old self was thrilled with the idea. So I decided to test it out.

Here’s what happened when I replaced every meal with ice cream for an entire day.

9:45 – Breakfast
As it turns out, the dining hall doesn’t serve ice cream until the lunch service. I am extremely disappointed. And hungry.

12:15 – Breakfast (actually)
I spent the last hour in lecture contemplating whether or not I should apologize to the people around me for the sounds of my stomach eating itself-I think even my professor may have been distracted. So by the time I got to the dining hall I had to stop myself from sticking my mouth right under the lever and opening wide.

Instead, like the rational person I am, I created myself a breakfast of vanilla ice cream, fresh blueberries, strawberries and granola. The first bite is heaven: light, cold, refreshing, creamy, fruity. But by the last bite I’m scraping my dish for more in a fruitless attempt to appease my still-grumbling stomach.

ice cream

Photo by Emma Doud

I’m bloated, uncomfortable and still hungry. I may or may not be feeling a tinge of regret.

2:00 – Lunch
It hasn’t even been two hours since breakfast but I’m going back for more because I’m hungry and I deserve it (also the stomach pain has passed-it’s practically my body giving me the A-Ok!)
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For lunch I decide to top my ice cream with a little childhood lunchbox nostalgia. I start with vanilla ice cream, pour over melted creamy peanut butter, sprinkle some roasted peanuts and add a glob of grape jelly. Wow. It’s the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich I’ve ever had and it’s not even a sandwich. And the best part? I’m not hangry anymore: the craving has been satisfied! Ice cream: 1 Grumbling stomach: 0.

ice cream

Photo by Emma Doud

3:30 pm
I’ve spoken too soon. The stomachache has returned with a vengeance, accompanied by lethargy and what seems to be a small throbbing in my head. I begin to consider giving in-“this isn’t rational”, “nutrients are important”, “I think I’m lactose intolerant”. But my inner five year-old urges me on: quitters never win, and winners never quit!

6:30 pm – Dinner
Because this is my last meal of the experiment, I decide to make the most of it, no matter how much my stomach and mind tell me to eat a salad instead. To give a proper ending to an improper day, I craft myself an American classic: a banana split.

I grab an extra large bowl from the dining hall and fill it with mountains of vanilla and chocolate cream. People are beginning to stare. I add sliced banana, chopped walnuts and a drizzle of rich chocolate syrup. Unfortunately, I don’t have a whipped cream or cherry on top, but that’s okay because maraschino cherries are gross anyway (sorry, not sorry).
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ice cream

Photo by Emma Doud


When I sit at the table with my bowl full of sugar, fat and dairy, I feel reluctant. As I slowly lift the cold, dripping metal spoon to my lips I remind myself: stick and stones may break my bones, but ice cream will never hurt me.

6:45 pm
I was wrong. Ice cream is hurting me and it’s hurting bad.

7:00 pm
I feel particularly heavy, like my stomach is holding a twenty-five pound weight. I resign myself to my bed for the next couple of hours and self-medicate with a pair of elastic-waist sweatpants and a Friends binge.

8:15 pm
My head is pounding, my stomach is aching and if my running shoes could cry, they would be sobbing.

What I Learned

Freedom is awesome. Ice cream is also awesome. But having the freedom to eat ice cream for every meal? Not so awesome. Here’s some sprinkles of wisdom from my day of dairy (pun intended):

Your parents were right. You cannot and should not eat ice cream for every meal. P.S. They’re probably right about other stuff too.

Ice cream is not an adequate source of vitamins and nutrients.

You should listen to your inner child unless it involves your physical health.

If you think you may be lactose intolerant like me, for the love of all things sugary and delicious in this world, DO NOT replace every meal with ice cream.

Too much of anything is bad. Until it’s good again. Moderation is key.

Swirl on, my friends. Just make sure you remember the chocolate sprinkles.

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