How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Food

Living at college has altered my diet in several ways. What I eat daily has shifted throughout all four years of university, and it has affected not only my physical health but also my mental health. My freshman year of college consisted of an embarrassingly large amount of Domino's pizza and all the junk food you could think of. I am here to tell you that the “freshman fifteen” is a real thing. Okay, I didn’t quite gain 15 pounds, but I did gain a horrible perception of food, my body, and my mental health.


Throughout all four years of university, I have experienced waves of happiness and shame surrounding my diet and body image.  There were times when I hated what my body looked like and was disappointed by how out of shape I was. Especially as a former track and field athlete, seeing my eating habits and physical appearance shift between high school and college was difficult for me. This led to eating anything I wanted without thinking about the nutritional value and then feeling remorse for my decisions. Sometimes I even went to the gym just to burn off everything I ate.


I’m sure some of you have done the same thing. Picture this. It’s a Wednesday evening and you decide to hit downtown West Chester for Barnaby’s wing night. I mean, 10 wings for only $5? You can’t beat that deal. So, you and a couple of friends decide to go to Barnaby’s for dinner and you go in on those wings. Suddenly, the realization of how full you are inflicts a feeling of regret and you make it a priority to eat only healthy food for the rest of the week. This constant back and forth between wanting to eat only healthy foods and wanting to eat the foods you crave is a bad habit we all need to kick to the curb. Eating doesn’t always have to be strict, and you don’t always have to punish yourself for eating something that might not have the most nutritional value. Creating a good relationship with yourself and food is just as important as any other relationship, so here’s how you can achieve that.


food in containers

1. Try Meal Prepping and Cooking Your Own Food

Fall semester I was always on the go. Between having class every day from eight a.m. to mid-afternoon and heading straight to work, I barely had time for myself, much less time to cook real meals. This resulted in always eating out and eating whatever was quick and cheap. I felt so unhealthy and I put quite the dent in my bank account. However, now that it’s a new semester and I have more time on my plate, I have more time to think about what meals I want to eat and their nutritional value.


Meal prepping has really helped. I know exactly what I’m eating while cutting out all of the processed foods that made me feel gross and sluggish. I feel a thousand times better about what I’m eating, and I have come to love cooking too. Not only do I feel healthier but I have also found a new hobby.


2. The 80/20 Rule

Balance in your diet is key. Some people go all in and make it their priority to make their diets the healthiest it can be. However, eating should be fun and enjoyable. It’s so good for you to implement more vegetables, fruits, and legumes into your diet and eat healthier, but you can have a few cheat days here and there too. The 80/20 rule is the idea that you don't have to eat healthy foods 100% of the time. Make it an 80/20 split and give yourself some room to indulge in some of your favorite foods now and again. By allowing yourself to still have some fun with what you're eating, it'll help keep you from falling into unhealthy eating or even exercising patterns that so many of us have experienced.


Breakfast food3. It’s Okay to Crave a Little

It’s normal to crave pizza, fast food, or Auntie Anne’s every time you go to the mall (You know you’re guilty of it, girl. We all are). Remember that it’s all about balance when it comes to your diet. If you use the 80/20 rule throughout your day, you’ll find that you’re much happier about your diet, weight, and outlook on eating and food.