College is great. It’s the place where you learn about your future, other people, and yourself, all while living on your own, making your own choices, and exercising your new freedom.

Being a collegiate foodie, the only aspect of this chapter of life I didn’t anticipate was how it would alter my relationship with food, because it did, and quite frankly, it sucked.

bread, toast, sweet, grilled cheese sandwich, pastry, cake, honey, butter
Christin Urso

I’ve always had a love for food. Growing up, I’d always been willing to try anything once, grab two desserts, or three servings of my mom’s pasta. So when I came to college, that pattern intensified.

Even though dining hall food may not be great, its plethora of options every day was overwhelming and exciting. That is, until I got home after my freshmen year 20 pounds heavier than I was before I had left.

As I looked back at the last two semesters, my thoughts were filled with guilt, regret, and embarrassment. The hatred I felt for those late night pizzas and midnight Ben & Jerry’s binges was overwhelmingly evident. What brought me joy at one point in time last semester now brought me nothing but discomfort.

My perception of food was tainted briefly after this point. While home for the summer, I felt like I had to reject my favorite desserts, eat salad every day, and skip afternoon snacks just to compensate for all the eating I had done during the school year. What snapped me out of this haze (besides my stomach ferociously growling) was when I realized that my thoughts were making me feel worse than the weight I had gained. So, that’s where I needed to start.

At one point or another, I came across this Bible study called "Hungry For God," which focused on the relationship between spirituality and food. That's a correlation I had never thought about before.

From this, I learned that food is holy thing, something meant to be cherished, enjoyed, and appreciated. Jesus broke bread for his disciples in communion, turned water to wine, and fed thousands with just a few loaves of bread and two fish.

Food is a special something given from God, to us. It was put on this earth to nourish and fuel our bodies, intended to give us energy, to heal and to restore. With that being said, what is put into our digestive tracts should be done with only the utmost compassion, thought, and care

vegetable, carrot, cucumber, tomato, cabbage, pepper, broccoli, salad
Christin Urso

This led me to finally understand the act of mindful eating: to eat only when I was hungry, to chew and taste every bite, and most importantly, to stop eating when I was comfortably full. Basically, I was learning to listen to my body, a perspective I had previously ignored.

What this means is that if my body is telling me that it wants nothing more than cheese pizza for dinner, by all means I can do that in order to satisfy my body’s need, just maybe not the whole box. And if I’m craving something sweet, I can most definitely enjoy a scoop of ice cream, but maybe not the whole pint.

Moral of the story? Our bodies are temples, not just a collection of numbers on a scale, and they ought to be treated as such. You wouldn’t take the time to construct an elaborate monument brick by brick only to take a sledge hammer to it and damage the stone.

Oh, and another moral: food is awesome. Enough said. (Seriously, just look at this blackberry ricotta pizza with basil).

pizza, cheese, basil
Sasha Kran

That is how my love for food transcended my dinner plate and reached a spiritual euphoric level—whether literally or by hyperbole is up to you to decipher.

There are so many flavorful, delicious cuisines and dishes around us and the only regret we should ever have is not indulging in it. As the saying goes, life is too short to skip dessert.

College is great. It’s the place where you learn intensively about your future, other people and yourself. The last part of that is most important, and we ought to cherish ourselves for what we are: fearfully and wonderfully made.