The stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve tends to be the hardest time on the waist for many people. Who can blame us? Food is available in huge quantities from the first bite of turkey to the last New Year's Eve party and when someone offers free food, the human inclination is to take it. I blame it on our cavemen ancestors who didn’t know when they would be eating their next meal. The solution to this problem seems obvious—stop eating so much during the holidays. But this is easier said than done, at least in my mind. Eating good food has become a holiday tradition. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the delicious Christmas cookies and holiday bark.
I have a love-hate relationship with the dining hall. While I love the food served, I hate that it is not always good for my body. Living off-campus has eliminated some of these problems, but I can still remember navigating the dining hall and the skills I developed during my freshman and sophomore years. I do not claim to know everything about the dining hall, but I have tried my best to remain healthy on a dining hall diet and found tricks that worked for me.
Every year, Thanksgiving serves as an excuse for people to eat as much as they want without feeling too bad about themselves. Everyone else is doing it, right? This is where we are wrong. Thanksgiving does not have to be about gaining 20 pounds or tripling your caloric intake for the day. Instead, just a few small changes could make a big difference.
I have listed some traditional Thanksgiving dishes that, with a few simple substitutions, can be altered to reflect a healthier, though still delicious, Thanksgiving meal. Follow these examples and you will be closer to a guilt-free Turkey Day in no time.
Each time I tell a new person I am a vegan, they automatically ask about my nutrition and wonder how I can possibly be getting everything I need in such a restricted diet. My response to them is that while it is important to educate yourself fully on a plant-based diet before embarking on the challenge, it is possible to do it the right way. While I am not a nutritionist or expert on vegan eating, I consider myself pretty successful in the vegan eating department. I can’t report any unfortunate changes I have had in my time as a vegan.
Being hungry is not fun. The grumbling noises that only happen during class when the room is silent, the pain that has you almost doubled over and ready to eat your own hand, the fatigue that accompanies a lack of blood sugar... We’ve all been there. Maybe when you left your apartment or dorm room this morning, you didn’t realize you would not be back until dinner. That is a long time to go without food. Even when you’re home, eating three meals a day does not cut it for most people. Speaking from experience, my stomach can start to grumble again less than two hours after eating.
Every Halloween, children of all ages chow down on hundreds of sugary treats, causing their blood sugar levels to skyrocket and their parents to wish Halloween was all about vegetables and fruits, instead of the artificial versions. As college students, we are still into Halloween treats like when we were young. But now we know better than to eat an entire bag of Reese’s before we get stomach aches (well, most of the time).
When someone wants to lose weight, his or her first inclination is usually to skip a meal during the day. In a way, it makes sense. Cutting down the total amount of calories will reduce the amount of calories taken in compared to the amount burned, which is when weight loss happens. However, people don’t often consider the negative consequences of skipping meals during the day, which can actually add more weight than it takes away. When meals are skipped, it results in hunger later in the day, causing one to snack instead of stick to one meal. Because of this, we tend to overeat while snacking. Think of the last time you went a long time without eating. Does the feeling of incessant hunger conjure up any memories? That time when you ate anything and everything you could reach in the cupboard? This happens because your brain no longer has the energy to say "no" when you want food. When you skip a meal, you are denying your body the glucose it needs to maintain willpower.
The time for carving pumpkins has returned, which means pulling out the sticky, stringy guts from inside what will soon be a glowing jack o’ lantern. As for that stringy mess, I don’t have any advice. What I can offer is a way to use those pesky pumpkin seeds. (By the end of this article, you will no longer think they are pesky.)