by Hannah Lank
I came into first year university with a ravenous appetite that led to an overindulgent diet. “I’m young—I can eat what I want, right?” became my mindset, partly because I believed it, but also partly because that was the mindset of my fellow first-year diners. There was no one to tell me that maybe a dinner should consist of more than carbs. Rather my friends only served to reinforce such a diet, indulging right along with me. “So many carbs,” we’d complain as we walked back to the caf for a second serving of pizza.
Living away from home for the first time ever in residence brought about many changes and a great deal of freedom and responsibility. A healthy diet became just one of many items in the litany of “things I need to take care of.” Of course I, along with every other first year, feared the infamous “freshman fifteen” (the amount of weight, legend tells, that the average first year gains by the end of the school term). Conscious of this, I tried to be good. Having been raised to eat healthy, after a few months of indulgent dining, I began to tire of pizza, pasta and potatoes. For me, it became about eating in moderation and being particularly aware of stress-eating and snacking in my dorm room. There were nights when, by myself or with a friend due to a combination of stress and the fact that we simply could, I would find myself consuming half a box of cookies—and never feeling very good after. By the end of first year, even with my daily gym excursions and runs, my friends and I had each gained at least five pounds.
When I got my own place over the summer I lost those five pounds and stopped consuming gluttonous amounts of sweets. For me, it was part of the experience of being a first-year student. You have to come around to realizing that a diet based on the principle of moderation is best, meaning it’s fine to enjoy a couple cookies, but not half a box. And yes, you need your vegetables. I don’t regret the diet choices I made in first year, because now I can honestly say, “Been there, done that—and never going back!” I’ve learned from my mistakes, but I had to make them in the first place.