If anyone knows anything about me, it is that I am obnoxiously enamored with food. Food is something that gives me great comfort — nothing is better than getting completely cozy in your favorite sweats and digging into an amazing bowl of homemade Mac and Cheese (by the way, I miss my Mom’s homemade Mac SO much). I also view it as an awesome social tool — going out to eat with friends gives you an opportunity to just sit at a table and chat for a while, making sure you put your phone away, of course.
But here is the tough part: as much as I wish I could treat myself to a hearty bowl of Mac and Cheese or a greasy pizza pie every night of the week, I obviously, must not do that. One huge transition I’ve made since coming abroad to UEA is the amount I cook. Although I do complain about the fact that UEA only has about three different places to grab a bite to eat on campus (compared to Temple… Oh, the array of food trucks!), it has forced me to cook every meal at my flat. This, in turn, saves a huge amount of money and saves me from turning to fast food for lunch if I’m feeling lazy (Chik-fil-A, I’m looking at you).
Even though preparing meals at your place does on the surface mean it is probably a lot healthier than eating out — it does come with great responsibility. Your parents aren’t there to tell you to eat your veggies, you have very minimal cooking skills as you are a twenty-year-old college student, and it does take a good amount of time for some meals when you factor in the prep, the cook time, the eating itself, and the cleanup. Because of all of these factors, it is so insanely easy to just throw in the towel and just turn to a frozen pizza or chicken nuggets and fries for dinner (which I am completely guilty of doing). Being a student and cooking is honestly hard; sometimes you are just completely exhausted from having class or studying all day and you just want to pig out on a plate of nachos. This is okay. What I needed to realize, though, is that there is no way that I was having a “bad day” three times a week.
Eating healthy, in my eyes at first, seemed rather hard to keep up with. But honestly, it all comes down to planning. Like I said before, there aren’t many places to eat on campus, which helps my case a lot. Therefore, I do all of my shopping at ALDI. I make a list before I go in, which keeps me focused and not just strolling down every aisle trying to think and pondering a bit too long on the chocolates. It also takes a lot of experimentation. Many “healthy food dishes” really do not go well with my tastebuds, but others I have really come to love. You really have to put yourself out there and try things you wouldn’t normally try and you just might surprise yourself and have a new favorite dish! I also incorporated vitamins into my daily breakfast. They help pick up on some areas you might be lacking in, and you can even get the fun gummy ones, which taste really good.
That said, even though I turned over a new leaf and began cooking in and actually enjoying vegetables does not mean I no longer treat myself. Oh, no. I would say I try to eat fairly well during the week and then on the weekends is when I’ll have a more self-indulging time. Balance is key! And of course, while you’re abroad, you need to try all the amazing foods you wouldn’t be able to have back at home. And when you’ve been staying in and cooking all week, having that beautiful dish out will taste even better!