Although I attend a university that boasts one of the best college dining services in the country, I still found that this year has been one full of alimentary adventures. I grew up in a household that never strayed from the fundamental family dinner mentality. Every night was a carefully planned and prepared extravaganza of vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates. Dinner was at 7:15 p.m. sharp, and if you weren't there, you ate leftovers (if you were lucky enough to salvage any) or cereal. You could not wander in at half past eight and expect a steaming plate of home-cooked delectableness waiting for you. Quite literally: You snooze, you lose. Even though dinnertime was strictly enforced, I would've come on time anyway because the food was just too good to let sit on the table.
My home is now a single room. I eat, sleep, and entertain guests in a 10 by 10 square that is smaller than my average bathroom at home. So obviously, there is no room for a kitchen. In fact, there isn't even a microwave to heat up leftover yummy meals. There is just a refrigerator and a freezer that doesn't work at all because, unfortunately, it is located within the fridge. This space-saving feature might seem like it defeats the purpose of having a freezer at all. It does. So, because of this lack of kitchen supplies, lack of proximity to a supermarket, and most importantly, lack of any culinary ability, I am forced to live solely off of whatever the Tufts Dining Services kindly provides for me.
I can't complain much; Tufts Dining is extremely high quality -- although I certainly have experienced many a night where I am simply not taken by the look of the cheese-stuffed breaded chicken. On those nights, I will pick at a bowl of fruit or wallow in the burnt crispiness of my homemade quesadilla. Ultimately, I will wind up in my bed at 11:30 p.m., stuffing myself with store-bought cookies that I begged my parents to bring up and have, since then, hidden them in my bedside table so that no snooping snackers would stumble upon then. Those are my favorite nights; I love going to bed with a stomach full of nostalgia-inducing snack foods. Even better, though, is waking up on top of smudges of chocolate that I ground into my bed over the course of the night. Of course, if I washed my sheets every time I made that kind of a mess, I would be doing laundry five nights a week. So I've learned to live with (and love) my slightly slovenly bedding.
It is truly a Christmas miracle that I have managed to remain under five hundred pounds this year. Partly because I don't exercise, but mostly because the amount of sweets, fats and generally unhealthy meals I ingest on a daily basis would give my mother heart failure. Even so, I'm not entirely a diabetic waiting to happen; I try to eat a healthy dinner as often as I can (which only makes me feel less guilty about snacking thereafter) and I keep my fridge stocked with things like yogurt, cheese, deli meats, and frozen fruit to encourage healthy snacking -- although, lets face it, I reach for the cookie drawer far more often than I sprint to the fridge for a midnight snack of yogurt.
College has taught me many important things this year. I have learned how to be independent, how to balance school and social engagements, and, most importantly, how to do laundry. But college has also taught me how easy it is to resort to unhealthy snacks when the dining hall dinner just isn't cutting it. This is not to say that I am resolving to cut down on snacks and instead eat only healthy -- because that's just unrealistic -- but it is to say that I am quite aware of my less-than-admirable eating habits. And I hope, in subsequent years, that I will be able to minimize my meal plan.