To an anthropologist, I think one defining trait would stick out among Georgetown’s student body, and it wouldn’t even be a newsworthy discovery: we’re busy people. Busyness is a trait inherent to Georgetown culture, and it’s not something likely to change. We’ll give up an hour or two of sleep to meet our productivity goals, squeeze in a workout, write one more cover letter or even to watch just one more episode of West Wing. We’ll order meals in to avoid cooking and the requisite clean-up process. We borrow from Peter to pay Paul, and this cycle of putting our health on the back burner of the stove that we rarely use will catch up with us. Knowing how much my fellow Hoyas thrive when challenged, I have a task for the Georgetown community this summer: make your health a priority. We’re adults now, and nobody is going to make sure that we’ve eaten a nutritional meal, or any meal at all. The desire to put our own health first has to come from us.
Nutrition is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, and with conscious effort, nutritious eating can be a huge step in consciously improving our health. The way we eat as college students can set us up with habits that we carry into adulthood. Proper nutrition gives us energy, promotes cardiac and neurological health, strengthens bones and teeth, and is a factor in weight control.
The food that enters our mouths is literal fuel. In succinct terms, the carbohydrates we consume, such as sugars and starch, break down into glucose so that we have energy for cell processes, while the protein we consume is broken down into amino acids so that we can have muscle fiber, neurotransmitters, and other biological functions. It’s hard to be men and women for others, to run the free world a la West Wing, or to make it to an internship fully prepared each morning without energy; it’s hard to do any of these things with any degree of competency without having biological processes firing on all cylinders. In this respect, self-care must take precedence over all the busyness we so dearly love, because without a certain degree of self-care — energy in this case — we cannot accomplish any of the other important things we aspire to. First things first, they say, and good nutrition should absolutely be first on our priority lists.
There are a lot of obstacles to good nutrition, namely expense and time constraints. These barriers are often doubly inhibiting for college students. Luckily, there are ways to prioritize healthy eating without breaking the bank or spending undue time shopping, preparing meals or cleaning up their aftermaths. First, planning is key. Make a budget and plan what you need before you shop. This cuts down on costly impulse purchases, and lets you focus on what you really need. Use the Safeway rewards card or go to Trader Joe’s; you’d be surprised by how much you can save. Next, know your options. Taking the tiny Wisconsin shuttle to Safeway and lugging back heavy bags is not your only option. Make the Wisconsin shuttle more fun by going with a friend, take advantage of delivery services such as Instacart that will deliver groceries from different stores directly to your dorm, have fun shopping at farmer’s markets. In D.C., the options are wider than we think.
I’m not a nutritionist, and I won’t perjure myself by making suggestions about what individuals should eat (if you’re interested in speaking to a nutritionist, both Leo’s and CAPS have staff nutritionists) but I will challenge you to make your health a priority. Eating well is the building block for focusing on healthy relationships, exercise, and maintaining mental health, and making time to eat is fundamental to eating well. So here’s my challenge to you, Georgetown, because we both know how much you love a challenge… start one step at a time. Make yourself breakfast every day for a week; even a simple omelette or a bowl of oatmeal will do the trick. In the words of Julia Child, “Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy,” so experiment and have fun with it and soon we’ll all be busy… cooking.
Charlotte Glasser is a rising junior in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. An Apple a Day appears every other Wednesday at thehoya.com.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.