Anna Kate Dabney on Healthy Living

The college transition comes with a whole host of fantastic adventures, newfound freedoms, and an abundant amount of self-discovery. Living away from home for the first time can be a challenging time, and it’s no secret the all-you-can-eat buffets and noon classes can keep the typical student away from the gym and lounging in bed. Anna Kate Dabney, reigning from Virginia, defies these stereotypes. With health restrictions curbing her consumption of certain food groups and in addition to personal choices she has made, Anna Kate strives to be her healthiest self here at Wake Forest. 

Her Campus: Tell me a little bit about your current nutritional and physical activity. 

Anna Kate Dabney: I am sadly allergic to gluten, so over the past year, I’ve had to cut that out. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was in third grade and for about two to three years now I haven’t had dairy, so that definitely prevents me from eating a lot of foods and keeps me on track, as I can’t eat breads and pastas. It encourages me to eat well. I try to at least workout five to six  times a week because I just feel more energized after I do that and I can treat myself every once in a while. 

HC: Have you always been such a conscious consumer? What inspired you to make changes in the way you consumed food? 

AKD: Honestly, vegetarianism was just because I didn’t like the taste of meat, so there’s nothing really special about that. With gluten, my sister when she was around eighteen, her face started to puff up [after eating gluten] and so then that started to happen to me around that age. But with dairy, I did it more for my skin, and I do think I noticed a difference since I cut out dairy — I feel better and I think I look better. 

HC: How have your eating restrictions or eating choices influenced your life at college? 

AKD: It’s definitely harder here, mainly at the Pit, it’s really hard to find a ton of food, so I’ve had to become more creative with what I eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because there is only like one section for me when it comes to not having gluten or meat. But it’s definitely more of a challenge as Chick-Fil-A and all these things are more accessible than when I was at home, so it's a lot more tempting, but I just have to stay on track. 

HC: What do you typically eat in a day at college? 

AKD: I’ve never really been a breakfast person, but I need something in the morning to keep me sustained, so I usually go to The Pit and get a banana and a tablespoon of sunbutter and I’ll drizzle a little bit of honey - there’s protein and potassium, so that keeps me pretty full until lunch time. If I’m going to have fruit, I’ll have it in the morning as it helps with digestion; I try to follow this food-combining thing, so if you want to have peanut butter, you can have it with a banana, but you aren’t supposed to mix any other food with fruit because it stops with your digestion. In the afternoon, I’ll have a salad, or I have a blender here at school, so I make a smoothie with plant-based protein powder, chia seeds, blueberries, almond milk, things like that. At night, it varies, but I’ll go to The Pit and have the mixed vegetables and potatoes. 

HC: What advice would you have for other college students who are looking to make healthier choices? 

AKD: If you’re trying to change your lifestyle, don’t just cut everything out immediately, because it’s not going to work. You’re just going to restrict yourself and then you’ll binge. For example, if you say “oh I’m not going to eat any carbs,” then you’ll eat like a whole pizza on Saturday night, and that will just be a waste of the whole week of trying to do it. So just slowly, try and change your diet, and still treat yourself, because you’re going to go insane if all you eat is healthy food —  you can eat Skittles or a cookie every once in a while. And, you can eat them in a healthier way — you can have anything in moderation.