Denise posted a great post on BlogHer about eating at college. She found several links about
The Freshman 15
and compiled the information. It's not surprising to me that the freshman 15 isn't necessarily just a myth. I gained 35 pounds, which may not have been so bad. I could go into the challenges of body image when you can't see yourself or others, but I won't in this post. Since I'm going back to school a week from today, I think I'll write up my set of tips I found useful with learning the cafeteria with Julio, dealing with bad pain days and whatever else I remember. Since I know not everyone really wants to hear about food at college, I'll be nice and put it under a cut.
It's almost funny to look back at how much anxiety I had about the cafeteria at school. Cafeteria's are my own personal version of hell, I think. They're big, noisy at times, full of food distractions and hard to navigate. You can't tell what's in front of you, so it can be challenging (at best), to get your food. Basically, last year, I freaked. Now, though, I have a set of
to use to deal with these situations and others.
Distracted by food, distressed by my doggy
One of the hardest things for me to deal with is how food distracted Julio is. On the one hand, I want to respect him and his uniqueness, but on the other, his lunging and eating off the floor cause me to lose my balance and him to get sick. I've had negative responses to Julio's gentle leader, and had a few people who tell me "it's too tight!". This isn't true; my Guide Dog instructor has checked the fit several times.
When I use the gentle leader with Julio, he can still get food (I know this from experience), but I can tell what his head is doing. He doesn't like it, but it doesn't hurt. I don't think little kids like seat belts, but it doesn't hurt them to wear them. When I don't use the gentle leader with Julio, the food distractedness is a problem. I have actually gotten bruises from his lunges when a pole or counter was in the way. This isn't safe, especially since I can't walk as steadily as I used to. What I finally had to do was decide not to listen to others with the gentle leader. I'm happy to give them the number for my Guide Dog school if they have questions, and I check the fit regularly.
I hate being dependent on others when it comes to food. How do I know I'm getting the food I want? How do I know I'm not missing something I'd love to have? Will the person helping me make "editorial decisions" about what I eat? These questions really bothered me at first. I didn't know where things are in the cafeteria, so I avoided it like the plague sometimes. What I ended up doing was making friends and meeting them for dinners or lunches. This way, I could learn from friends what was available. I got to know several staff members, so soon, I was recognized by name and helped if someone was free. I also learned that classics had food served to students, so you didn't have to see where food was, the grill was the same way except you needed help to write an order (or you can just catch the cook when he brings out an order), the Delly works like Subway, and international is okay once someone helps you pick out your vegetables. I also learned where the sodas I like are in the machine. It's not fool-proof, but it works most of the time.
For breakfasts, I just go to a coffee shop (either Brewberry's or usually the school's shop). There, you can talk to someone directly and get a drink and muffin (or other yummy foods) handed to you. That's usually quicker than fumbling through the mostly-self-serve breakfast offerings. On weekends, the cafeteria isn't so busy, so getting help is easier at breakfast.
Awful Pain Days: What To Do?
Admittedly, I haven't figured most of this out yet. I'm still trying to figure out healthy ways to deal with my pain on bad days and get some neutrition even when the pain makes me sick. What I discovered is that the grilled cheese is the least nauseating option at the cafeteria when I'm in pain. A grilled cheese and a Sprite seem to stay down best. On other days, I dive into my stock of soups and stews. Denty Moor (spelling?) makes wonderful beef stew, and you can get single-serving, microwavable containers of soup from most brands. This is always a good option. Finally, having soda-crackers around is a definite must for food. Mint tea and ginger ale are good drink options.
This was last year's method of coping with these challenges. I don't know what, if anything, will change. But I thought writing these thoughts down might help me keep them in the front of my mind. I think moving back could be stressful, which could increase pain levels. I want to at least have some thoughts written down, so I'll know what worked in the past if I can't sort these ideas out on my own. Maybe, if I'm lucky, these ideas will help someone else.