Your Student Life: Finding Food Freedom

June 20, 2021

Growing up in the diet culture that surrounds us, I guarantee that most of you reading this can name a few diets or food trends from the top of your head. Whether it’s keto, paleo, cutting carbs or intermittent fasting, they are all restricting, and it can be overwhelming trying to keep up a lifestyle based on these fad diets. Although there are people who may function well on these diets, for others they can make you feel limited and are often unsustainable in the long term.  

Especially as a student, life can be stressful enough and it’s not worth it to get upset over whether you should have that cupcake on your friend’s birthday or not. For those reading this who can relate, I’m here to tell you that your life doesn’t have to be this way! You can have a healthy lifestyle that honors your nutrition and health needs while still enjoying your favorite foods. You can find food freedom! 

The key words in finding this solution are intuitive eating. For those who have not heard of this before, an intuitive eater is defined as a person who “makes food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma, honors hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating.” If this whole idea sounds appealing to you, here are some tips on how to start:  

  1. Listen to your hunger cues. This may sound obvious, but your hunger and fullness cues are there for a reason – to tell you approximately when to start eating and stop eating. Diets can make it seem like there is a very exact amount of calories that your body needs, but in reality, your metabolism changes from day to day based on a variety of factors: hormonal changes, physical activity, how much you ate, sleep, etc. Listening to your hunger and fullness cues can help you appropriately respond to these changing needs. 
  2. Develop a healthier mindset about food. So many diets put “good” or “bad” labels on food, and it can become ingrained in our thoughts surrounding food. Although certain foods may be more or less nutritious, these choices do not reflect your morality. Try to be aware of what foods you tend to label and instead of attaching words of morality, empower yourself to make decisions based on what feels good for your body in that moment. 

These are just two steps to get started, but there are links to other useful websites containing more information on this topic below. It’s all about finding what works best for your health and remembering that food does not determine your worth or value as an individual!

Sierra Schwierking
Nutrition Wellness Ambassador
Student Wellness Center
Office of Student Life