Pepper’s guide to healthy eating
I eat raw vegetables every day. It’s not a big deal, but that’s how people know me. One day I was given the nickname “Peppers” because that day I was eating some pretty good bell peppers. Students are stereotyped as having poor eating habits and I’m here to give you some options to break that stereotype. There’s something called the “Freshman 15,” but I’ve never heard of it and neither will you if you make an effort to eat healthy foods.
There’s a huge amount of information about nutrition out there, so I’m not going to lecture you on what to eat. I’m just going to tell you what works for me. Here are the facts: I don’t have a car, I live off campus and I have to be at campus for 10+ hours usually 3-4 days of the week. I pack as much food as I can carry every day, but sometimes I eat on campus if I need to. The first thing that blew my mind and totally upped my lunch street credibility is Lock-N-Lock Tupperware. No more spilling in any situation, so you can now pack your lunch with the confidence it will stay in the container and stay fresh. I don’t heat my food, but maybe, if you do, glass locking Tupperware is also an option (it’ll be heavier though and breakable).
I routinely go grocery shopping every Monday after my class gets out at 6pm. I check out the sales before I get there to hype me up on what’s good that week. Thrifty Foods (or Thrifty’s as we locals call it) has an app for your phone that will give you the flyer every Wednesday. The Root Cellar has a mailing list you can join that sends you the deals of that week via email. Grocery shopping should be something you look forward to!
I do my grocery shopping at both Thrifty Foods and The Root Cellar. They are on the same bus route and close to the UVic campus. Thrifty’s is your basic chain store and The Root Cellar is similar to a farmer’s market offering a variety of local products and cheap vegetables. At this point, I have a good idea of the cost of most products and what a good deal looks like. I only shop ‘good deals’ and I stock up if something is an excellent deal and has a long shelf life. It’s fun getting a good deal, but it’s not like I’m some sort of extreme coupon-er. I just track the prices in my head.
Why Thrifty’s? I like the quality of the products. I rarely have a bad experience and, if I do, they will always rectify the situation for me. Vegetable prices are routinely cheaper at the Root Cellar though. For example, this week Thrifty’s has red bell peppers on for 4.99$/lb and Root Cellar has them for 0.99$/lb. That’s some serious savings! The Root Cellar has extra deals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week. My grocery bill is usually about $100 a week and I eat a lot more food than the average person.
What to buy? You want the majority of your diet to be from whole foods (not processed/packaged). If it is not found as it appears in nature then I would not consider it a whole food. This includes fruits, vegetables, rice, potatoes, nuts, non-processed meats, poultry, fish, grains and many others. Eat whole foods and you will be in good health. Try to mix it up and get a variety of things. I try to eat fish at least twice a week and have a diverse coloring of vegetables. I also buy cheap meats and leave them in the crock pot all day with vegetables and spices. I make brown rice in my rice cooker and top it off with a steak sauce I make from a recipe from Japanese Village, a local downtown restaurant – then I have lunch for the week! There’s no perfect diet and it’s hard to do a complete overhaul at one time, so make baby steps towards healthy options. Make tweaks as you need and figure out what works for you.
You must enjoy what you eat! That being said, packing healthy foods for school lunches really works for me. If I’m hungry at school and all I have packed are healthy options, that is what I will have to eat. I take a Tupperware container full of raw vegetables each day, usually a banana, maybe some yogurt, last night’s leftovers (stir fry, stew), nuts (usually almonds), can of tuna, oats, and craisins. If I don’t have enough food or get hungry, I usually go for a sandwich or wrap from Mac’s on campus. I bring my own tea bags and fill up my travel mug with hot water at the BiblioCafé. Other tips that work for me: I eat a big breakfast as soon as I get up (eggs, avocado, toast and sometimes bacon). I snack in intervals at school instead of eating one big lunch and I usually eat raw vegetables before midterms because it definitely improves my score!
Try to make an effort to eat healthy foods and your body will reward you. If you make small steps towards a goal of eating well, you will be successful. I have much more to learn about food and eating, but I understand that this will be an active learning process over a lifetime. I’m committed to trying my best to improve my eating habits. I hope you found some of these tips helpful and good luck with eating better!