Thoughts: College Classes, Not Being Vegan Anymore, and Mental Health Maintenance
Helloooo! Long time no blog.
On August 19th, I relocated to Cleveland, Ohio to start my college education, and honestly have not taken 2 seconds to take a deep breath since move in day.
Between making a ton of new friends, starting classes, studying for exams, working, staying up way too late at night, taking spontaneous trips downtown, and writing really long lab reports, pretty much every second of my time has been occupied.
Moving into this busy season of life has been very exciting because of all of the new beginnings that have come my way.
Despite being in a little over my head with the sheer amount of things that I have on my calendar, I absolutely LOVE being surrounded by so many intelligent people who are all just as involved as I am.
We don’t let grass grow under our feet here.
I finally have some free time because of the Thanksgiving holiday, so I thought that it would be a good time to reflect on some things that have come up during the last couple months.
Taking a year off didn’t make me ‘forget’ how do do school work.
For whatever reason, people seem to think that taking a year off of school will cause you to literally forget how to learn… I’m not gonna lie, I was a little worried that my study skills would be rusty after not doing a single assignment for 15 months. But in reality, I started my classes ready to learn, and I have had zero problems getting back into the school mindset. In fact, I think that taking a rest gave me the ability to care more about what I am learning and I felt fresh and ready to go when classes started. My grades are not suffering either.
2. I am so glad that I am not vegan/gluten free/sugar free/low carb/whatever the heck diet everyone is on right now.
Eating in the dining hall is something that is a major adjustment for almost every kid that comes to college. Some have a hard time finding something they like, some find themselves over doing it on the french fries and unlimited desserts, and some just don’t eat in the dining hall at all. Personally, I was used to having pretty much any food that I wanted, prepared exactly how I wanted, so I definitely needed to adjust to having less say in what foods I eat. I miss expensive foods like raspberries, fresh avocados, wild caught salmon, almond butter, homemade healthy muffins, green smoothies, etc. I also miss cooking for myself and trying new recipes. But on most days I actually find the dining hall salad bar to be my go to. I go and get copious amounts of roasted veggies (that I didn’t have to chop) and add tofu or chicken for some protein and some bread or potatoes for carbs. Sometimes the food sucks. Sometimes I leave the dining hall feeling unsatisfied and kinda grossed out. Yesterday I just had an ice cream cone for dinner. So it goes.
I just can’t help but feel grateful that I don’t follow any specific restrictions anymore. Between being vegan, dairy free, gluten free, pescetarian, vegetarian, and just about everything in between, I can finally say that I eat all the foods (with the exception of things that I don’t like the taste of) and I think my diet is probably healthier than it ever was when I was cutting out a certain food group.
Part of health involves how much stress you are under, and if cutting carbs or sugar or being vegan adds a significant amount of stress to feeding yourself, then it might not actually be healthier for you at all.
Long story short, cookies and ice cream and pizza and whatever are not poison and I’m glad that I eat them regularly. Because having to say no to ice cream runs, and dinners out with friends, and free donuts would just be kinda sad.
As a nutritional biochemistry major, sometimes people are like “omg im so surprised you’re eating that cookie” and I laugh because that’s why nutrition is so interesting to me.
We actually learned in class that the healthiest diet is not one that has no sugar. The healthiest diet is one that incorporates a wide variety of carbs, protein, and fats, lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and a dose of happiness, whatever that means for you.
3. College is hard. Talk about it.
I have had my fair share of emotional struggles coming here and adjusting. Panic attacks, a death in the family, stress from school work, worrying about friends, feeling insecure, and sleep deprivation, all contribute to what sometimes seems like a laundry list of stressors that I need to deal with. I know for me that talking about what is going on is the best thing that I can do for myself. If I try to ignore my problems, they build up and eat away at me. I still see a therapist, a dietitian, and a physician, all who work together to make sure that I am taking care of my mental and physical health to the best of my ability.
I think other kids my age are afraid to talk about things when they are hard. But from my experience, reaching out for support from friends, family, and professionals has been key in helping me fight the fires that would likely be out of control if I tried to take them on all by myself. There are like a billion mental health resources online and the only thing standing in between you and feeling a little better is your willingness to talk.
Hope everyone likes my little nuggets of wisdom, Happy Holidays!!