A (Really Short) Guide to Healthier Eating

Packages of fluffy roll cakes, cream puffs, pudding, and more stare up at me as I try to walk past the desserts section. ‘You’re here to get something healthy! A mont blanc is NOT healthy!’ I remind myself. My mind focuses on directing my eyes to the bread — ahem, I meant salads — but a few minutes later, I find my hands automatically paying for a mini chocolate croissant and karaage. 

Freshman 15 — it’s all too real and definitely not an urban legend you should brush off. As a carb lover with the physical activity level of a cat, starting my hitorigurashi (living alone) life meant that I was free to eat as many peanut butter sandwiches I wanted without having my mom around to chide me. Combined with the delicious food options available in Tokyo (shout-out to the ricotta cheese pancakes at Bills!), my first year at Waseda was not exactly a nutritious one. Once I realized my weight gain was something I was not comfortable with keeping, I began thinking of ways I could start a healthy diet that was reasonable enough for me to maintain. Though I haven’t dropped all the pounds I put on last year, just knowing that I’m making an effort to make better eating choices makes me feel better and motivates me to continue. These are some of the points I keep in mind whenever I eat, so I hope they’ll be some help to students like me! Of course, please remember that I’m not a dietitian and simply try to use a combination of common sense (ex: green tea over soda) and reliable information from various sources.

Point 1 - Slow Down! I’m a notoriously fast eater and as a result, I always end up finishing my meal before my friends. Not only does this create an awkward situation, but it’s also a not-so-great habit. Eating quickly makes it harder for you to gauge your fullness, and more often than not, you’ll end up noticing how full you are after you’re done. After I started slowing down, I was surprised to find that I felt full way before I thought I would be! 

Photo by RitaE

Point 2 - Have Breakfast! Many students seem to skip breakfast because they “don’t have time” to eat in the morning — don’t be one of them! Sitting through morning classes on an empty stomach sucks, makes you cranky, and will encourage you to overeat during lunch. If you’re like me and can’t be bothered to make a nice omelet at 7 AM, try overnight oats! Like the name suggests, the “cooking” part is done overnight and so all you have to do is pop a jar in the fridge right before you sleep. I like to keep mine simple and only use three ingredients (oats, soy milk, and half a banana), but feel free to take a look through some of the recipes here and find one to suit your tastes! 

Point 3 - Think Before You Snack! My mom loves baking, so I grew up thinking that snacks were only snacks if they were sweet and fresh out of the oven. Coming to Tokyo was like a dream because of the number of delicious bakeries and cafes in every neighborhood. Alas, I learned the hard way that bread causes me to bloat...a LOT. I also found out that having snacks lying around made it easier for me to eat without really thinking. Nowadays, I only buy single-serving snacks that’ll give me just enough energy to last until lunch or dinner. Unsalted nuts are my usual go-to, but sometimes I like having sugar-free applesauce (it’s kind of like ice cream if you freeze it!) Regardless of what your snacking preferences are, try to pick something that will fill you up without overloading on unhealthy ingredients.

Conclusion: making a lifestyle change isn’t easy, but learning to make healthier choices is a rewarding experience that will stick with you for a long time. With a few adjustments here and there, you’ll be feeling better in no time!