My Freshman 15: A College Girl’s Relationship with Food

TW: This article contains discussion on body image and weight.

 

I, like so many before me, was a victim of the “Freshman 15.” Or, more accurately, the “Freshman a-little-more-than-15.” The classic combination of Peirce pasta, study snacks, cookie care packages and late night Dominoes all led to an unfortunate increase in my weight. When I weighed myself for the first time over winter break, I was devastated. I had seen the changes in the mirror long before that, but those three little numbers felt like a slap in the face. It was more than just the fact that I had gained weight. It was the fact that in that moment, I realized that I had lost control over my relationship with food.  That day I decided that something had to change.

Over the course of winter break, I worked with my mom to create a plan. Don’t get me wrong, this plan didn’t just include food. I changed a lot of things about my life like exercise, sleep, and self-care, as well. However, changing what and how I ate was a huge part of the work that I did, so that is what I want to focus on. After those 4 weeks, not only was I able to lose 8 lbs, but I felt so much better physically and emotionally. While things like daily calorie intake and routines are individualized for each person, I wanted to share some of the more general things I learned to think and do that helped me change my relationship with food and my body from a negative one to a positive one

 

Food is Fuel

When I started to gain weight, I began to look at food as some evil toxic thing, something that tasted so good and that I wanted so badly but screwed me over in the long run. Food was the enemy. Looking at food like this turns meal times into hell. If you think like this, you will never be able to eat food without feeling guilty, much less be able to enjoy it (which you should!). I learned that a better way to look at it was to think of food as fuel. Your body needs food to survive and thrive, so you might as well learn to love it for that!

 

Calorie Conscious vs. Calorie Counting

I know that everyone hears the words “calorie counting” and recoils, myself included. Counting your calories all day every day can be just another way that food takes over your life, and can quickly turn to unhealthy eating habits. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be conscious about the calories you’re eating. Once you realize that there are at least 450 calories in every bowl of Peirce pasta, you come to terms with the fact that having two bowls of pasta each for lunch and dinner plus a dessert is going a little overboard. However, that does not mean you don’t have pasta and dessert. Maybe you only have pasta for one meal a day and substitute in a banana or apple when you want something sweet instead of dessert a couple times a week. Depriving yourself of what you love is just setting yourself up for failure, so make sure you eat what you love, just in moderation.

 

Eating My Feelings

I know that there is no way that I am the only one who gets in a fight with a friend and suddenly has the urge to finish off a jar of peanut butter (or at least I hope not because the number of times I have done that is embarrassing). Eating my feelings when I was stressed, upset, or just plain bored was a huge factor in my weight gain and subsequent weight loss. I learned that simply being aware of what you are doing and when you are doing it is a huge first step. First of all, if you know that when you and your friends argue you eat a jar of peanut butter, maybe don’t keep a jar of peanut butter in your room like I did. Try and keep healthier snacks—like raisins and nuts—in your room instead so if you do have the urge to snack, it’s at least something healthy.

However, that doesn’t get to the root of the problem. You are eating because you are looking for a way to soothe your distress. The key to getting rid of stress eating is finding another coping mechanism to deal with your emotions. There are lots of options, you just have to find something you like that is realistic for you to do. Things that work for me are journaling, calling my mom, or doing a Sudoku puzzle.

 

Drink More Water

I know, you hear this everywhere from everyone, but I was surprised at how much better I felt when I drank more water. Not only was I more hydrated (shocker), but I also felt less f the urge to snack constantly when I drank water instead. Sometimes we eat because we think we are hungry, but we are actually thirsty. Try and shoot for 60oz of water a day.

I encourage you to come up with a plan of your own! It doesn’t have to be with the goal of weight loss, just the desire to eat and feel better! Write it down and share it with a friend so that you have something concrete that they can help hold you accountable for. Making a plan and doing it together can also be fun! I hope these tips can help you take back your life and enjoy mealtimes again!

 

Image credits: Feature, 1, 2, 3