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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

University life allows students the novel liberty to sleep, eat, and work at the luxury of their schedule. This new lifestyle welcomes standard late-night study sessions, occasional all-nighters, and frequent nights out with friends. Naturally, stomachs will begin rumbling and a happy belly is just an Uber Eats order away.

It can be a stroll to the kitchen or to the only open restaurant within a 1-mile radius. Regardless of where the food comes from, it’s inevitable that students will have more late-night meals at their university than they would at home.

Eating late can cause anxiety or stress for several reasons. For instance, there can be a fear of weight gain. While this is a valid fear, it’s critical to keep in mind that students are working more in college than they would at home.

Students are busy with loads of academic demands such as club meetings, research projects, and personal activities. In order to sustain these responsibilities, a healthy functioning body and a brain full of abundant energy are required. It is more sustainable to stay fueled during long study sessions rather than forced starvation.

Not eating to prevent weight gain can backfire in the long run. When starving oneself, the body begins to consume readily-available glucose and eventually uses muscle mass as the energy source to sustain bodily functions. This can lead to decreased muscle mass and, consequently, a reduced metabolism. A slow metabolism contributes to rapid weight gain because the body isn’t able to metabolize food as efficiently.

To help increase metabolism, it is important to consume a good amount of food. Many college students aim to increase muscle mass, which implies eating in caloric surplus (of primarily nutritious food). Avoiding those late-night burritos or milkshakes could help keep their metabolism up.

Biological and fitness perspectives aside, most people can agree that it feels better to be present in the moment when indulging in a meal. It feels better to enjoy a burger or a slushie with friends instead of avoiding them out of fear of gaining weight. Avoiding the food you truly crave can lead to disordered eating patterns and, potentially, an eating disorder.

Eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors are prevalent among college students due to body stereotypes. For many students, college is where they have their first taste of freedom to wear whatever they want. This sometimes means wearing more revealing clothes and trying on new outfits.

This independence can give rise to body insecurities that impact how much food a student chooses to consume. For instance, wearing more revealing tops can make individuals feel insecure about their waist or hip dips. Tighter pants can make someone feel ashamed of their leg shape enough to deliberately starve themselves to fit a particular body standard.

It is important to help students realize that they don’t have to feel guilty for having an extra meal or snacking more often. One should not ignore their body’s requests, especially when it comes to food. Feeling hunger is the body’s way of asking for energy and denying it can lead to health problems down the road.

Curving that cake slice or taco plate, if done consistently, can severely reduce one’s metabolism and self-esteem. Remind yourself that life is supposed to be enjoyed, devoured, and experienced to the fullest.

Say YES to the extra pizza slice, late-night ramen, and colossal sandwich.

Say yes.

Smriti Panchal

UC Berkeley '24

Smriti is a freshman at UC Berkeley double majoring in Nutritional Science with emphasis on Physiology & Metabolism and Anthropology. She is a passionate, driven leader who enjoys public speaking, creating art, networking with her community. Her goals are to provide the maximum happiness to the maximum number of people through her work.