When I first attended UC Davis oh, about 15 years ago (YIKES!), I was NOT an off white eater at all. My diet consisted of Captain Crunch w/non-fat milk in the morning, bagels/yogurt/carrots for breakfast and a sort of sensible dinner (salad and meat usually), WITH dessert if at all possible. A snack would be taking my loose change and buying all the $.05 Laffy Taffy and York Peppermint Patties that my quarters and nickels would allow. Sugar and white carbs are cheap and plentiful on college campuses, even a health conscious campus like Davis. I was in sugar heaven!
Ironically, I was about 10 pounds lighter, but that is a story for another day 🙂
Now I’m back in the same environment with a different mentality. Because I am A) Poor and B) more conscious about my diet, it means I’m schlepping my meals to campus every day instead of relying on the homemade and not-so-homemade offerings here on campus. Though I will say, that several times I’ve scored a bran muffin for $.40 that had sugar listed as the 4th ingredient AND that was not the size of my head…so there are pseudo off-white bargins to be found.
What’s hard is that keeping up with my energy needs is a lot more work now that I carry my life on my back and ride a bike around all day. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I’m hungry A LOT. Hungry and Picky is not always a good combo. Here’s what I’ve learned about myself so far:
1. Because I workout in the AM, and then ride my bike for 15 minutes to/from gym to class I am downright ravenous @ 8am. So my 8-9am class is also breakfast. Hardly mindful, but it’s a reality. I MUST have protein and fat or else I’m starving again at 9am. What seems to work is a hard boiled egg + oatmeal or homemade energy bar.
2. If I don’t plan for lunch @ noon I’m pretty much wanting to eat my arm off. So it’s either add one more container to the backpack or plan to go home for lunch. Honestly, I’ve had to scarf down my lunch several times because I just don’t have time to be leisurely. Hopefully I’ll figure out a better system. Seems like a big fat salad and some lean meat works well, and if I just do ‘grain’ based meals (like tabouleh, salad and hummus/veg), I’m again starving by 3pm.
3. I’ve never had a problem forgetting to eat, but I can’t tell you how fast the hours go by between meals and I’ll realize ‘oh, it’s 7pm and I need to eat dinner”. What????!!! That has NEVER happened to me before. I simply have too many other things to think about or places to be (like yoga, for instance @ 5:30-7pm). To avoid the binge effect of being super hungry I have to plan ahead and have something ready. Again hard boiled eggs or veg/hummus have served as my appetizer on several occasions. In some ways its a lot more work for us becasue we don’t just keep crackers, bread or microwave food around. It’s a good problem to have, but I forsee LOTS of batch cooking in my future to ensure proper fueling.
4. Waste not, want not. I used to have a real bad habit of letting food go bad. Not so much now. Food costs money. Food in the house also means less time spent trying to find food. We eat EVERYTHING we buy. Peach slightly bruised…no problem, just cut off the bruised part and stick the rest in that smoothie. I have a whole new appreciation for my wonderful food! Its amazing what I can conjuor up, such as: oatmeal with coconut flakes, flaxmeal, cinnamon, and applesauce…..or a mid-day egg scramble with left over cooked collards/onions, red onions and zucchini that was going to turn if I didn’t use it that day.
5. I have a strategy for getting healthy food for cheap: I’m now a “super worker” at the local Food Co-op. For 4 hrs/week I’ll be bagging groceries and being the food demo girl in exchange for an approx 21% discount on all groceries…plus it gets me ‘in’ for teaching cooking classes @ the co-op teaching kitchen in the winter. Thank god for this little oasis because it allows me to NOT have to be so cerebral all the time. School is great but it’s 100% “hard” science. Staying connected to the whole food movmement is HUGE for me, and the Co-op is the pinnacle of connected in Davis. They support the Saturday Market, feed the homeless, do fund raisers for the Slow Food movement, and do health education! I was practically jumping out of my chair at orientation. Yes, Yes, YES, was all I could think as I learned more about this organization (which by the way started in the 1970’s as a cheese cooperative out of somebody’s garage. Now its an $18 million/yr food co-op and one of the fastest grown co-ops in the country).
6. I take advantage of the free hot chocolate at the Friday’ Grad Student lounge free food event. Apparently its widely known that Grad Students are strung out by Friday and maybe broke and hungry….so they feed us. While it’s mostly crap food, they do at least offer whole grain bagels w/PB and cream cheese, and a wide variety of beverages….including good ol’ Swiss Miss hot chocolate. I love my Friday Swiss Miss…… with only 12g/sugar per serving I’m okay with it and it doesn’t seem to send me into sugar craze……..in fact I’ve not been craving sugar nearly as much as I just want food…nourishing, healthy, sustaining food….my brain is on overdrive and it knows that too much sweet stuff is just going to short circuit the system.
Well, better run to class…and then it’s my weekly reward: eating out for 1 lunch per week. Today’s its Raja’s indian cuisine with a friend…..not only do they serve the BEST Paneer ever, but they buy all their produce fresh daily from local growers, and the owner is the sweetest man in the world . I’m greeted with a warm half-hug (cultural thing, I think) and a “hello, dear, it is so nice to see you…..yes you are so very nice….glad you are here…….”. What a great way to end a whirlwind week!