Hi. Wow, it’s been a minute. I want to thank you all for being patient while I worked on adjusting to college, shifting my eating habits, and prioritizing my mental health.
The transition to college was not an easy one for me. In fact, it may have been one of the most physically and mentally challenging experiences of my life.
Back in September I was ready for my journey ahead. While l understood prior to leaving for college that my food intolerances would make my transition difficult, I underestimated the effect not eating would have on my health and well being.
Tip number one, never underestimate the power of food.
The first quarter of college can be lonely. You are starting over, beginning a new journey full of twists and turns. You live in a new place and eat the food they provide (if you can), you make new friends, and you call your teachers professors instead of teachers (crazy, I know).
While all of this was a bit of a culture shock, I tried not to let it phase me.
As time went on, my health began to decline. I felt tired all the time, and I mean all the time. I could hardly open my eyes in the morning, I could barely walk up the stairs to my dorm room, and I borderline heaved when I walked up hills. I even developed a cough that lasted for two solid months, two months! My head hurt, and I was always dizzy.
During these first two-ish months of college I cried a lot. And I am not ashamed of it. It is not that I had given up; I kept telling myself over and over again that I would begin to feel better, that things would get better, and they just never did. My poor physical health eventually took a toll on my mental health, and there was a period of time when I would wake up, look at myself in the mirror, and not even recognize the girl staring back.
Everyone told me the reason I wasn’t feeling well was because it was my first quarter in college, a time period when “everyone gets sick.” While there is absolute truth to this, I did not understand why week after week I could not seem to get better.
It was not until I completed an assignment for a nutrition class that I began to realize a major catalyst of my pain.
For our assignment, we had to track everything we ate for three consecutive days. We then needed to plug all of the foods we consumed into a nutrition calculator online that would highlight our nutrient deficiencies, toxicities, and perfections.
Plugging my food intake into the nutrition calculator online forced me to open my eyes to how I had been neglecting my body. Not only had I consumed less that 1500 calories each day, but I was deficient in every single vitamin and mineral with the exception of Vitamin C. Vitamin C came up as a toxicity.
Looking at my results and seeing how severe some of my deficiencies were, I was shocked. How had I let myself become so unhealthy? Eating a rice cake two meals a day does not supply enough nutrients to sustain anyone. Of course I was sick and dizzy every day. I was barely eating!
It is hard to be dairy free at college, and it is hard to be gluten free at college. It is hard to be egg free at college, and it is hard to be meat free at college. It is even hard to be corn free at college. But all together? It truly feels impossible.
The sad thing is that even after discovering all of this, I didn’t know how to fix it. That passion for food, for this blog, for cooking... it was dissipating into forgotten smoke before my eyes, and I had no mental strength left to fix it. I was watching my passions disappear.
Every morning I woke up and told myself, “It will get better,” but then I did nothing to try and make it better.
No wonder nothing ever changed.
Do I blame my rough college transition solely on my inability to eat food on campus? No. But it did play a really large part.
I don’t really blame my rough quarter on any one thing in particular. I think that it happened for a reason, like most things do.
I’m able to see this now, as I’ve been home for a few days and had some time to reflect. Yeah, sometimes life is rough. Sometimes life is really rough. But that doesn’t mean that it will stay like that forever. Like my Papa always said, “Never confuse a rough day for a bad day.”
I believe that sharing my story and being vulnerable is a good start to turn this all around. Not only will it help me, but hopefully it can help someone else in a similar situation feel less alone.
It can be scary to be vulnerable and let people in. Especially when social media makes it out to seem like everyone around you is thriving and living their best lives. That said, I need to be able to be open and genuine in order to both receive support and help support.
So, all of that said, what am I going to do now? (1) I am going to spend my winter break cooking and devising a whole list of easy recipes that I can replicate while at school. You better believe I am going to have a game plan going back into school so that I eat three solid meals a day. (2) I am going to make sure I stay writing. Even writing this post brings me so much happiness because I am doing something I love so much, something I really missed. And (3) I am going to make all my friends’ kitchens back at college my own.
I am going to take this time I have over the next month home and get my life back on track. I am ready for whatever life throws my way.
Everyone needs to start somewhere. I am starting here.
My name is Gabriella. Join me on my health and wellness journey as I discover foods that not only please my taste buds but my stomach as well!