Let’s face it. Adulting is hard, well at least the thought of it. One of the most “adult” things I had to learn to do when leaving my childhood home: cooking (and all that goes along with it). Grocery shopping, having a stocked pantry, meal planning, paying bills, budgeting, etc. How in the heck are you supposed to fit all of this in between what social life you have and a full course load?!?! How many meals have you slaved over, and ended up tasting like crap? I’ve lost count.
All that being said, failed meals are all part of the road to adulting. You won’t improve any of those skills without actually attempting, right? Fear not! Here are some tips from your campus dietitian to help with the whole adulting transtion when it comes to food goals.
1. Get some meal planning skills.
- Reality check: meal planning doesn’t require much skill. It requires time, but not all of your free time. 🙂 I spend about 30 minutes on Sundays making a grocery list and prepping items such as fruits and veggies. Make your 30 minutes fit your schedule though; if 4pm on Wednesday works well, meal plan and prep away!
- Having a well-stocked pantry with basics, such as legumes, grains, spices, etc., can make your life easier when determining what you’re having for dinner this week. This topic is pretty much its own blog post; so stay tuned next week for more on what pantry staples look like for college students.
- Write it all down. Recipes, grocery lists, etc. A shopping list and weekly meal calendar are my two meal planning tools I swear by. I’m a big fan of pretty stationary too. So planning with eye-catching stationary motivates me to be consistent. Pinterest is a great resource for meal planning templates that’ll make you want to meal plan for several weeks at a time. I use a fun notepad for my lists. Your meal planning can be as simple or detailed as you want it to be!
2. Quit fad dieting.
Last year, paleo diet took the top spot in fad diets. This year, the ketogenic diet seems to be king. If the results a fad diet promises seem too good to be true, they probably are. Below are some ways to spot those fad diets.
- Rigid menus & diet guidelines – why make you’re life more complicated? Regardless, restrictive diets are difficult to maintain. Ask yourself, “Am I able to follow this diet long-term?” If your answer is no, or you experience a significant amount of hesitation to say yes, consider moving on.
- Elimination – diets that eliminate food groups or many foods (often for a reason not supported by scientific evidence) remove critical nutrients from your diet.
- Testimonials & promotion by “experts” – testimonials poor indicators of effectiveness, don’t count as scientific evidence. Sorry not sorry. Also, Google and food documentaries don’t make you an expert in the area of nutrition either.
3. Eat your fruits & vegetables.
Pretty sure I sound like your mother right now, but I know what I’m talking about. Studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables within an overall healthy diet more likely to reduce their risk for chronic disease. Go ahead and add reduced risk for certain types of cancers, healthy vision, reduced blood pressure, and improved gastrointestinal health too. Be sure to thank antioxidants and fiber for all assistance. So how many servings should you be eating? The Dietary Guidelines for American recommends at least 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit for men ages 19-30, and 2-1/2 cups of veggies and 1-1/2 cups of fruit per day. Remember, variety is key to getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals. So aim to eat fruits and vegetables of all colors throughout the week.
4. Be adventurous!
Seriously. I often start presentations or discussions with asking my audience to classify what type of “eater” they consider themselves. I include four categories: habitual, plain, budget conscious, and adventurous. Adventurous is ALWAYS the most popular category. Guess what? We can see what sells on campus, and I’m calling your bluff. If you consider yourself to be an adventurous eater, then be adventurous. Try new things, cook a different recipe, use your ingredients differently, and be open to tasting new foods outside your comfort zone. While chicken tenders will always be beloved, make room for foods you may consider a new favorite.
5. Have a good relationship with food.
Today, the “eat this, not that” mentality seems to be deeply rooted into our brains. Whether you view food as an adversary or a too close friend, distorted relationships with food run on both sides of the scale. So how do you achieve that balance?
- Practice mindful eating. Blog post coming next month on this topic!
- Allow yourself to enjoy eating. Trying new foods, dining with friends, or just taking the time to eat in general are ways you can do this.
- Everything in moderation. Despite what you end up reading on Google, there are no forbidden foods.
- Don’t get too restrictive. It’s okay to treat yourself to that doughnut on occasion. I say doughnuts because they happen to be one of my favorite fun foods. But whatever your fun food is, don’t feel guilty eating it every once in awhile.
Come back for more next week. Wellness intern, Kaleigh, is sharing her idea of the perfect pantry for college students, but any adult could rock this pantry too!