February 23rd, 2017

Balancing Food at College

Food is absolutely lovely in all of its forms, especially when it can help me with my stress. For some people, knowing when to start and when to stop eating is easy and doesn’t require any thought. For people like me, it can be extremely easy to overeat during meals or just continuously snack. Maybe it’s because I have an insatiable hunger or maybe (more likely) its me trying to handle stress, and turning to emotional eating.

Emotional eating is very common and not necessarily a bad thing, however, it is better to try and change the habit because it isn’t the right coping method. There are many articles that talk about and suggest ways to fix emotional eating. The one that I’ve found most helpful and try to stay mindful of can be found through this link: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/diet-weight-loss/emotional-eating.htm. There are several things listed below, from the article, that can help you practice mindful eating. Some are really, really helpful; I personally try to live by the eating slow and shopping list practices.

1. Begin with your shopping list. Consider the health value of every item you add to your list and stick to it to avoid impulse buying when you’re shopping. Fill most of your cart in the produce section and avoid the center aisles—which are heavy with processed foods—and the chips and candy at the check-out counter.
2. Come to the table with an appetite—but not when ravenously hungry. If you skip meals, you may be so eager to get anything in your stomach that your first priority is filling the void instead of enjoying your food.
3. Start with a small portion. It may be helpful to limit the size of your plate to nine inches or less.
4. Appreciate your food. Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything and everyone it took to bring the meal to your table. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you’re enjoying it with.
5. Bring all your senses to the meal. When you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, be attentive to color, texture, aroma, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them. As you chew your food, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings.
6. Take small bites. It’s easier to taste food completely when your mouth isn’t full. Put down your utensil between bites.
7. Chew thoroughly. Chew well until you can taste the essence of the food. (You may have to chew each mouthful 20 to 40 times, depending on the food.) You may be surprised at all the flavors that are released.
8. Eat slowly. If you follow the advice above, you won’t bolt your food down. Devote at least five minutes to mindful eating before you chat with your tablemates.

Hopefully there is now an understanding as to why it can be hard to stop eating, and what you can do to try and change the habit. As awesome as food is, it isn’t meant to help cope with emotions and stress.

The following week will be devoted to jobs and all the fun they bring!

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February 21st, 2017

Dining Hall Food vs. Store Food

Image result for uww drumlin

One section of Drumlin Dining Hall at UW-Whitewater.

Generally, freshman and sophomore year are more about eating in a dining hall because it’s easier and meal plans are really helpful. Junior and senior year, as you live further from dining halls and grow tired of the cafeteria style food, it becomes regular to go to the grocery store instead. No matter what year you are at, it doesn’t hurt to know pros and cons of both sides, to make your decision easier.

Looking at the quality of food, store bought food will usually be better because you have more options and can pick what you like. Also, you get to work with your own recipes instead of the recipes that cafeterias normally offer (recipes that try to use all the leftovers at once). For dining hall food, they offer healthy foods with a bit of variety, but sometimes it can be difficult to find something you want because dining halls go for mass produced food, over quality of food.

Price wise, using a meal plan at a dining hall may seem cheaper since it is one price each meal, no matter how much you eat. However, unless you religiously follow your plan, you’ll most likely skip a few meals each week, which is lost money. In the long run, store bought food should be cheaper, unless you buy super expensive food and then just let it go to waste (which is what one of my friend’s roommates likes to do).

Finally, it is important to consider the amount of food you get in each area. If you are a strong eater, a dining hall with a meal plan is probably the way to go because you can eat a lot without the price going up. If you are a picky eater, definitely go with store bought food because you can pick what you want and how much you get. It really depends which you think will fit you better.

The next post for this week about food will be about the importance of balancing how much to eat, especially when you have free range in those dining halls.

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February 16th, 2017

Handling Roommates

Maybe you’ve heard it before, maybe this is the first time: communication is key. Without communication, you and your roommate are in for hurt feelings and awkward situations.

To put a hard emphasis on this, I’ll take you back to my freshman year of college. My freshman roommate, we’ll call her Kate, would leave pretty much every weekend, either to go home or visit her boyfriend in Madison. Kate usually told me what her plan was for the weekend so that I would know when the room was empty and when it wasn’t. One Friday night, I was stopping by my room to grab food at like 11-11:30 pm before going to hang out with friends. Right as I unlocked and opened the door, I heard an “oh no” and a gasp; as the light streamed in from the hallway, it illuminated Kate and her boyfriend doing the deed. Yep, I walked in on my roommate having sex.

If Kate would have just told me she was back and with her boyfriend, none of that would have had to happen. Communicate before it becomes a problem!

The part that comes after communicating with your roommate(s) is compromising. Like any relationships, no one person can get their way all the time, it just doesn’t work. Its all about trying to find a solution that has a little bit of what you both want, a middle ground. For example, say you go to bed at 10 pm most nights and your roommate usually goes to bed at 1 am. One compromise that you two could reach, would be that she would shut the TV and main light off while being relatively quiet after 10 pm. Then in return, if she likes to sleep in during the mornings, you could promise to keep the light off and also try to be relatively quiet. Otherwise, you both would be angry at one another and not have much sleep.

Next week is food! We’ll talk about the differences between cafeteria and store food, as well as, how to balance your intake of food.

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February 14th, 2017

Finding a Roommate

(Not me or my picture)

After deciding which college, finding your roommate is priority number one. There are two ways to go about this: one is choosing a friend, and the other is picking a random roommate.

Wouldn’t it be perfect to live with your best friend who’s been through it all with you? Not necessarily. Hanging out with them is very different from living with them. It’s important to think about how their living habits would match up with yours, instead of just about all the fun you two would have doing things together. If there is that one friend who has similar habits, try going through a questionnaire with them and see what answers come up.

Out of all the lists of questions and questionnaires for roommates, this is the one I found most helpful: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/36-questions-to-ask-your-new-roommates. If you and your roommate decide to ask each other questions, please be honest! If she asks how late you stay up and you say 11 pm to match her, (when in fact you stay up till 2 am usually) it could become a big problem when she turns off the TV and lights at 11, and there you lay, wide awake.

The other option for finding a roommate is using the university’s random roommate search. This can seem overwhelming, but it could be a way to find someone who’s more similar to you than any of your friends. All you have to do is fill out the profile and wait for the university to send you a list of potential roommates. Don’t be afraid to start emailing the possible people immediately! Definitely use the questions from the link above, just like you would do with your friends. Again, be honest and open because you’ll be sharing time and space (a very small space) together.

Next time we’ll dive more into the importance of communicating with your roommate.

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February 8th, 2017

About Me

Welcome to Piecing Together College, a blog written by me, Maddy McDonald, intended to provide you with personal stories and advice about college.

When I first came to school, I was so ready to tackle all the tasks college threw my way, and then I realized how many there really were. Between homework, making new friends and finding clubs that interest me, I found that my days were quickly running short on time while my stress increased. Luckily, I was able to get advice from my sisters.

I was able to piece all this information together to pass on and hopefully help others through their own college experiences. I’m a student at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, currently in my sophomore year. I’m hoping this blog will help incoming freshman, the way that my sisters were able to help me. Through the tips and tales in my blog, you will be better prepared for the college tasks that lie ahead.

Join me next time where I will discuss roommates and the ins and outs of functionally living together.

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