Sick of eating cereal and Ramen for lunch and dinner? Want to spend less money eating out and finally start cooking for yourself? Put down that frozen pizza, because HC’s Health Editor, Sammie Levin, is here to share her daily eats so you can get ideas for healthy, satisfying meals that are easy enough for any time-strapped collegiette to make. After you read Collegiette Eats, your taste buds, wallet and waistline will thank you.
It happens to the best of us: you're doing great with maintaining healthy eating habits, and then something - whether it's a holiday dinner or a night of stress-eating during finals week - causes you to pig out. You can actually visualize your momentum and willpower go down the drain as you polish off your fourth Christmas cookie and grab a fifth one (because you already blew your healthy diet for the day, so why stop now?).
That's exactly what happened to me this past weekend. It started on Friday when I attended an end-of-semester dinner party. The event was catered by a Mediterranean restaurant that I love, and I ended up filling my plate without any regard for portion control. I was hungry, so I ate it really quickly and then immediately got seconds before waiting to see if I was actually still hungry. I definitely did not need the seconds (or probably all of the firsts, for that matter), because by the time I put down my fork, I was in a legendary food coma. As full as I was, when I got home I was craving something sweet, so I had a piece of chocolate that then turned into many more pieces of chocolate and other candy.
How I look and feel after too much chocolate.
When I woke up the next morning, I had a food baby hangover. I had all intentions of eating well that day to get back on track, but I ended up eating out twice which led me to eat much bigger (and less healthy) meals than I would have if I had prepared my own food. On Sunday, I did better throughout the day but went to my sorority's house for dinner and proceeded to feast on a giant plate of pasta and dessert. As I was going to bed that night, I felt way too full and was bummed that I went overboard throughout the weekend.
After a few days of eating more than usual or indulging to your heart's content, it can be hard to get back on track. Over the years, I've found that if I try to drastically alter my eating habits or focus too much on the "damage" I've done, I usually get fed up and quickly lose motivation. So I've come up with a list of a few quick tips for how to more effectively get yourself back in the mindset of healthy eating.
- Put it in perspective. Don't dwell on your slip-ups. Instead, recognize that you need to treat yourself once in a while, and remind yourself that after just a few days of returning to healthy habits, you will feel better.
- Start now. Rather than thinking, "Well, I already ate so unhealthily today, why stop now?" as you reach for that fifth cookie, start attempting to get back on track in that moment, rather than pushing it off for tomorrow or the start of a new week. Start in the moment with a small goal, such as making that cookie your last one, so that you can get your motivation going. That way, you'll feel less pressure to completely overhaul your diet the next day. Think of every meal (rather than every day or week) as a fresh start.
- Plan a few meals in advance. After a stretch of unhealthy eating, it can be helpful to plan a few of your next meals in advance. Load up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein while attempting to limit salty and sugary foods. Check out the foods I ate to get back on track on Monday below.
- Don't skip meals to compensate. If you overdo it one day or night, you may be tempted to skip meals the next day to compensate. However, this is not a good idea because if you start to feel deprived, then you'll likely end up overeating again later. Instead of skipping meals or severely limiting your calorie intake, forget about yesterday and focus on making today full of healthy, balanced meals.
- Remember your goals. Remind yourself why you care about eating heathily. What are you working towards? Is it for the right reasons, and are your goals realistic? A mental check-in after getting off track can help revive your motivation and make you feel more at peace with yourself.
Although I wasn't that hungry when I woke up, I knew I should still eat breakfast to start the day off right and make sure my stomach wouldn't start grumbling in class later. So, of course, I opted for my favorite breakfast of banana almond butter oatmeal. This breakfast always helps me get back into the mindset of healthy eating, plus I've read that both banana and oats are good de-bloating foods.
For lunch, I wanted something with lots of vegetables and no bread, so I made a vegetable stir-fry with scrambled eggs. I sautéed spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and cubed butternut squash in some olive oil and minced garlic. I then scrambled one egg and 1/4 cup egg whites and chopped it up finely, kind of like how it is done in fried rice, and added it to the vegetables. So easy and so good!
I grabbed a quick dinner with my friend at a cafe on campus. I got terriyaki salmon, which was served on brown rice with edamame, carrots and sweet peppers. It was filling, but I had a late night at the library and I needed a little something to get me through studying for my finance exam (blech) so I ended up snacking on pomegranate seeds and a few Hershey's kisses. Mmmm.
After a day of eating healthier I already feel a little better. But getting back on track doesn't have to take one day - any adjustments you can make will have an impact! Don't beat yourself up over not sticking to a perfect diet. You only YOLO once.