After a winter break filled with meals of roasted turkey, turkey soup, turkey sandwiches, turkey potpie (I think you get the idea), a slathering of mashed potatoes, and gingerbread houses complete with sickly sweet candy fixtures, the last thing on my mind at the moment is food. Well, not quite. (Could food ever really not be on my mind?)
In fact, like many other UTM students, it’s quite the opposite. The new year and the new term encourage many students to reevaluate their eating habits and adopt healthier alternatives. For most, the change may not be a complete overhaul but rather an editing of their current diet.
I’ve compiled a list of advice to help you get over your post-holiday dinner guilt. This year, rather than trying out that new fad diet—which may not only be unsafe but also difficult to maintain—make small, attainable goals that encourage a healthy, balanced diet. Especially one that will be easy to maintain on campus.
It’s not what you think. I’m not suggesting towing along a beer to class. I’m referring to good old H2O. Who knows whether we’re supposed to drink eight, twelve, or twelve hundred glasses of water a day, but no doubt the more you drink, the better.
“My new year’s resolution is to drink more water,” says Olivia Orton, a third-year theatre and drama studies specialist and history major. “If I drink more water, I won’t drink as much juice or coffee. It’s good for your skin, body, and overall health.”
Bring your own reusable water bottle to campus and fill up it at the numerous water fountains that were installed throughout campus two years ago. Don’t like the taste of water or find it too boring? Flavour it! Add fresh fruits, vegetables, or herbs to your bottle of water the night before to enhance the flavour. Try sliced grapefruit and mandarin orange, sliced lemon and grated ginger, or chopped up mango and kiwi. Or try cocktail-inspired versions of flavoured water by adding chunks of pineapple with a dash of coconut water, or freshly squeezed lime and crushed mint leaves. You could toss fruit and vegetable slices into your ice cube tray when making ice cubes. Or save time and just pop some pieces of frozen fruit in place of ice cubes into your water bottle before leaving for class.
MAKE YOUR OWN LUNCH
“It’s hard to find time to pack a lunch [between] work and school,” says Jaclyn Jambaro, a first-year psychology student. Time is precious to a university student. However, a packed lunch allows you to more easily control what and how much you eat each day. Moreover, it’s generally cheaper than buying meals on campus. That said, if you really don’t see yourself portioning out sandwich bags of snacks or rolling up brown paper bags, you should try making your own lunch at school.
For example, buy an On the Go salad in the TFC, but enhance it by cutting up and tossing in a serving of barbequed chicken, tofu, or additional cooked veggies from Elements. Or make your Tim Hortons bagel more filling and appease a rumbling stomach by bulking it up and requesting a slice of cheese, tomato, or any of your favourite sandwich fillings.
Or you could grab some oatmeal from Second Cup or Starbucks, but throw in chunks of banana or some honey and cinnamon.
Subway is a classic example of a fast food restaurant that lets you control what goes into your meal. Jasleen Gill, a second-year forensic science student, appreciates this freedom: “In the new year, I want to eat healthier and eat more greens. I go to Subway. It has the most variety of vegetables to choose from.” So don’t feel limited by the food options available at UTM. Instead, use them to create the dishes that you really want to eat.
While you may want to improve your eating habits, you shouldn’t let that interfere with your enjoyment of eating!
“I don’t think you should restrict yourself,” says second-year biology student Vikram Paul. “I don’t want to look back 10 years down the line and think, ‘I could have had a piece of pie.’ ”
Similarly, Alice Yu, a fourth-year CTEP student, says, “This school year, I’m eating less junk food. But I still let myself enjoy candy.”
Give yourself permission to have your favourite food, even if it doesn’t grow out of the ground or have nine cancer-fighting nutrients, but remember to have it in moderation. Designate a certain time of the day to sit down to a treat and take the time to enjoy it rather than eating it while watching the latest episode of Sherlock or texting your friend—you’ll actually appreciate it more and feel satisfied. Have a slice of cake after lunch, but try dividing it up into smaller slices and eat each individually, or have a cookie with dinner, but take a break between bites. Eating thoughtfully and slowly can be a philosophy for any meal, any time of day.