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  • Help for college!

    I'm about to head to UC Berkeley this fall (GO BEARS!) and I'm excited to head to college, but I'm anxious about the food choices there. I've seen the cafeterias/cafes, which offer sad (& also SAD standard american diet) food; although carb-heavy sugary cereals, pastries, pasta, hamburger buns, processed deli meat, egg salad w/ mayo are abundant, there are little good, clean protein choices. The few times they do offer fish, it's breaded, and protein dishes at the grill are already slathered in sauces or fried. They post their nutrition/ingredients for the menus online, and even the few times they have grilled chicken during the week, it has preservatives in it. Almost everything has sugar or preservatives. The most I found I could eat was steamed veggies, boiled eggs, and tuna (on some days) at the salad bar. I plan to cook on my own some of the time, but as a busy student it's hard to eat and shop for good, clean food. I just planned my schedule for the fall, and I'll probably stay on campus for most of the day (lunch & dinner) because classes are back to back and I don't have the time to return to my dorm & cook. I'm worried how I'm going to get enough protein in my diet, or stay healthy. I eat pretty low carb, with most calories from protein and fats. I avoid wheat/grains, but I do eat dairy from greek yogurt and cheese and legumes from tofu/edamame.
    I should mention I am recovering from an eating disorder and am orthorexic, so I'm improving in the 80/20 thinking to be more flexible with my diet and accept that the food isn't as chemical-free or organic as I would prefer. However, I don't want to sacrifice my nutritional beliefs just because I'm at college.
    In addition, I'm worried how I'll stay fit being so busy (and tired as a result). The gym is closer to the dorms, so once again I'll be on campus most of the day, and too tired to exercise as well. I apologize for the long post, but any help for an incoming college student please??

  • #2
    First, good luck with college! Learn as much as you can and meet lots of new people. I'll be a junior in college this fall, and I'll try to give you some advice based on what I've done during the past four semesters.

    Based on what I've seen, the food on campus is pretty lousy, just as you described. Cook on your own as much as you can and buy food that works for you, financially. Grass-fed meat and pastured eggs are great, but if you can't afford them, grain-fed stuff is still a heck of a lot better than cookies and cereal. I've been living off campus and have had long days in the week where I'm on campus from 8-5. What works for me is to cook a huge breakfast at home (Ex: bacon and eggs) and then bring some smaller snacks (nuts, berries, cheese, etc) to keep me full until I'm done.

    As far as exercise, I'll tell you what happened during my 1st semester, before I had ever heard about primal. I ate lots of awful food (even bad by CW standards), drank lots of beer, and probably averaged about 6 hours of sleep (from both studying and partying). The result? I lost 10 lb that semester, from 215 to 205. How'd I do it? The wise people in charge of Texas A&M decided that freshmen had to park in a parking lot about 1.5 miles from all the buildings with my classes in them. I walked A LOT.

    If you don't have time to go to the gym, that's fine. Just walk as much as you can. Take the long way every once in a while and enjoy yourself. One of my TA's transferred from Berkeley, and he said that it's a beautiful campus. Just make healthy living a priority for you, and good health will happen. Again, good luck!
    In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.

    This message has been intercepted by the NSA, the only branch of government that listens.

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    • #3
      Heya, I went to UC Berkeley and LOVED it. You will love it too.

      I'm kinda confused by your post. If I remember correctly, the gym is pretty close to campus. Hell, the dorms are pretty close to campus too. Which dorm are you going to be living in that allows you to cook your own food? When I first read your post, I thought you were worried about the crappy DC (dining commons) food. But you're talking about eating on campus? Avoid the campus-run cafe on Sproul. Hey, don't freak out. There are lots of places around campus from which you can grab salads or whatnot.

      And college isn't that hard or time-consuming. Well, I guess that partially depends on your major. What are you planning on majoring in? Oh man, I hope I can move back to the Bay Area in September. My college days were my happiest. What would I not give to be able to do it all over again! Enjoy these next few years, don't sweat the food too much. You're still young! The college years are for making friends, learning, and having fun--not for freaking out about food!

      Major in something useful--like chemistry or engineering. Avoid the social sciences/humanities. Yes, classes will be harder in the sciences/engineering, but you'll be more likely to find a job after. God, I sound like someone's mom. Sorry for the unsolicited advice!

      My journal

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      • #4
        This past spring a court ruled that schools like colleges would have to make accommodations for students on restricted diets under the ADA. Common allergens and gluten were the issues. You might want to contact the school with your priorities to see how they are planning on complying with this.

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        • #5
          Just a gentle note. Being a busy college student isn't any easier or harder than being a busy professionally employed graduate. Getting your priorities straight now will help you in the years to come.

          There are a million reasons to eat shit food. There's only one not to do so: because you value your health. The time it takes to stir-fry something healthy is no longer than the time it takes to wait on line and let someone else feed you garbage.

          Berkeley? Way cool. I went to SFSU and had a blast. Have kind of regretted not doing grad work at Berkeley. Have fun; learn tons; eat well.
          "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

          B*tch-lite

          Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

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          • #6
            Thanks for the words of comfort I guess I'm just concerned because I'll also be sooo busy-im pursuing a Cell & molecular bio major (pre-med). I am worried about both the on-campus cafes & the DCs, but mostly I'm worried about getting enough good protein; does anyone know if there's a place to get good grass-fed or pasture-raised chicken/meat near campus, or can suggest any good cafes?

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            • #7
              There's a Whole Foods in Berkeley. It's not super close to campus, but you can take a bus there. You could also work there. I used to live across the street from that Whole Foods and either walked or took the bus to campus. You will be fine. Pre-med is a good major. I used to laugh at the pre-meds in my classes, but now i see that they're the smart ones. (Because they're now doctors, and I've switched fields a zillions times and hate my job--haha!) You'll be fine. MCB isn't that hard. Also, have fun in VLSB. I used to spend a lot of time in that building. The weird thing is--when I visited campus recently, I noticed that the interior of the building still SMELLS the same as it did when I was there (~10 years ago). Heh! You know, smells can invoke a lot of memories. It was quite a trip!

              My journal

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              • #8
                Also, the thing is I'm currently underweight and recovering. I actually have to gain weight, which makes it that much harder because I don't want to restore weight eating crappy food.

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                • #9
                  I had the same concerns as you when I was going to head off to college... This is what I did:
                  - Woke up early to hit the gym before classes
                  - Make friends with all of the chefs/dining hall workers to the point where the chefs were making me gourmet meals specific to my diet
                  - Bought a mini fridge (so my roomie and I could have 2 in our room) and I turned the one I bought into a freezer and bought frozen fish and meat
                  - Bought a microwave safe steamer so I could cook those proteins
                  - Kept tomato paste and a can opener in my room just in case (lol)
                  - Bought a toaster over and kept it under my bed so I could cook the proteins another way
                  - When I wanted to eat in my room, I would bring a backpack to the cafeteria with tupperware in it, and then I would get a truck load of food from the salad bar, etc and put it in the tupperware and leave - AH HA HA!!
                  - Luckily Sprouts/Whole Foods was very close by so I could go to those places at any time
                  - I walked EVERYWHERE!!

                  **All that being said, I lost weight!

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                  • #10
                    Fascinating! I couldn't care less about diet when I was in college. Had so much fun, so many great experiences that shaped me as a person, learned so many different things in different fields, made so many friends... Ate whatever was available. DC food, top ramen, McDonald's, food from the dumpster (yes, we went dumpster-diving, and that's how we survived the lean winters and summers), and bread donated by the local bakery. I even got really bad food poisoning from eating a sandwich we got out of the dumpster once. Hehe! It was all part of the what-doesn't-kill-you-will-make-you-stronger experience. Best time ever!

                    My journal

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                    • #11
                      Hey, so I started UCB this week and I've been doing the best I can. THe dining food is disgusting, so I've mostly been eating salads and chicken, tuna, etc. Unfortunately, anything I eat has probably been cooked in soybean or canola oil, or has some sugar added to it. There's a Chipoltle nearby, but even there I know their chicken is cooked in soybean or rice bran oil. I'm wondering how bad these oils are, because basically if I avoided anything cooked in it there's nothing I can eat at a cafe anywhere.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Alfi56 View Post
                        Hey, so I started UCB this week and I've been doing the best I can. THe dining food is disgusting, so I've mostly been eating salads and chicken, tuna, etc. Unfortunately, anything I eat has probably been cooked in soybean or canola oil, or has some sugar added to it. There's a Chipoltle nearby, but even there I know their chicken is cooked in soybean or rice bran oil. I'm wondering how bad these oils are, because basically if I avoided anything cooked in it there's nothing I can eat at a cafe anywhere.
                        Sometimes it's a matter of doing as best you can given your circumstances. I ate paleo last year (my first year of college) in a dining hall and it was pretty difficult, because even if you're eating completely "clean" as far as actual foods go, even the hot veggie dishes and meat dishes will be cooked in unfavorable oils. You can't really do much about that. My cafeteria had grilled chicken and beef, though, so I usually stuck to grilled meat options. Rotisserie chicken (make sure it hasn't been coated in some weird sauce or sugar beforehand) also works great. I recommend leaving a comment on the comment board in your cafeteria or better yet, chatting up the manager to express your concerns. Just say your allergic to veggie oils, and ask if the cook can make you your omelets and such separately using butter. I even brought coconut oil to my cafeteria.

                        If you go to Chipotle, get their carnitas, which aren't cooked in the funky oils. I get a bowl or salad with carnitas, pico de gallo, extra guac, and sometimes sour cream/shredded. Just ask them to hold the rice and beans.

                        This year I'm also bringing a CrockPot to my dorm room. A lot of easy recipes from the two websites below appealed to me (from a budget perspective, too)! Scrimp on quality sometimes if necessary (e.g., no need for grass-fed everything if you can't afford it) -- I think getting your omega-3/omega-6 ratio in order is more important.

                        My Paleo CrockPot
                        PaleOMG – Paleo Recipes – Crockpot

                        Best of luck! You can absolutely do it.

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                        • #13
                          Well I went to UCLA in the early 1990s and I can guarantee you the food there was nothing like what it is now at least according to what I've read in the alumni magazines.

                          For me the worst part of college was disrupted sleep. Find some ear plugs or sleep routine that works for you. Getting 8 to 9 hours of solid sleep a night I can accomplish anything.

                          In a sense, this is good practice for when you will have little control in your future. Mark has had several lead in posts about not losing sight of the forest through the trees, keeping perspective, focusing on 80/20 and not beating yourself up over things you cannot control. I would look at those posts and just do the best you can. So you ate Chipotle and had the small amounts of fats some ingredients are cooked in, you could be doing a lot worse.
                          Last edited by JeffC; 09-03-2013, 10:20 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Thanks- it makes me feel a little better about having to eat out all the time. I'm eating a lot of tuna, so I'm wondering about the mercury... & most worried about my omega 6/3 ratio, so I'm trying to eat sardines and avocado to up the omega3's, since the fish in all the restaurants are likely farmed.
                            How would you recommend dealing with the exhaustion? I'm so tired daily because I'm very petite, and I have a hectic schedule-it's a lot of walking around campus. I know my cortisol levels are probably high because I'm not giving my body a day to recover, even though I'm making sure I get a good 9 hrs of sleep. Any recommendations? Unfortunately, I'm too busy or tired to exercise, although I try to go to a pilates class twice weekly to stretch myself out.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Alfi56 View Post
                              Thanks- it makes me feel a little better about having to eat out all the time. I'm eating a lot of tuna, so I'm wondering about the mercury... & most worried about my omega 6/3 ratio, so I'm trying to eat sardines and avocado to up the omega3's, since the fish in all the restaurants are likely farmed.
                              How would you recommend dealing with the exhaustion? I'm so tired daily because I'm very petite, and I have a hectic schedule-it's a lot of walking around campus. I know my cortisol levels are probably high because I'm not giving my body a day to recover, even though I'm making sure I get a good 9 hrs of sleep. Any recommendations? Unfortunately, I'm too busy or tired to exercise, although I try to go to a pilates class twice weekly to stretch myself out.
                              The omega 6/3 ratios and mercury poisoning are blown way out of proportion. Mercury is usually not available in the fish, and the omega fats are mostly just bad in constant excess or in replacement of saturated and monounsaturated fats.

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