I grew up in an incredibly healthy household. We had apples for dessert, carried Tupperwares of square meals whenever we went, and never ate anything with food coloring. Obviously, my parents were strict about food because they loved my brother and me and wanted us to grow up strong and healthy.
But guess what? I hated it. I felt like I was in a broccoli and asparagus prison.
Whenever I had the chance, I ate junk food. At my friends’ houses, I’d go crazy with Pop Tarts and Jelly Bellies and I’d save all of my allowance to buy juice and M&Ms from the vending machines at school. And cake? Oh my god, CAKE! I really think I might have dating my high school boyfriend for as long as I did because his mom always had cake and muffins in the house. I loved those baked goods just as much as I loved him.When I went to college and finally had the freedom to feed myself, I did what I always wanted to do: Eat junk all the time. For me, that meant Lucky Charms. With my family, they were the ultimate in forbidden foods. Sugary, food coloringy, marshmallowy, they were everything I wasn’t allowed to eat. And my college dining hall had an all you can eat cereal bar at every meal. I took advantage in a huge way, making up for 18 years of sugar-cereal deprivation. I ate Lucky Charms for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes I’d supplement with frozen yogurt, a bagel and very occasionally pasta, but mostly, I just had a few bowls of Lucky Charms and called it a meal. I kept up this magically delicious diet for months.
At the beginning of second semester, I started feeling sick. I was tired all the time and dizzy a lot. I even fainted a few times. I told my mom about how I was feeling and she diagnosed me over the phone with a brain tumor. Since then, I’ve realized that my mom thinks everything could be a brain tumor, but back then, her Google based diagnosis scared the crap out of me. I booked it as quickly as my weak body could take me to Student Health.
I told the doctor my symptoms and he asked some basic questions, including the ins and outs of my caloric intake. I gave him the Lucky Charms run down. He quickly took out his prescription pad and scrawled two lines on it. Then he gave me the sheet of paper. I read the note slowly, expecting the worst. Brain tumor treatment. Cancer support groups. A hall pass to the emergency room. Instead, all that was on the paper was, “Eat one protein and two veggies a day.”“That’s it?” I asked, relieved and also a little embarrassed.
The next day I started on the veggie and protein plan and within a week, I was feeling so much better.
Why am I sharing this with you? Well, because I think it’s important. Freshman heading off to college get lots of warnings about the freshman fifteen, sharing a room with a stranger and the dangers of binge drinking. No one tells you that taking care of yourself, just the basics, is kind of tough. Sweeping your room, buying toilet paper and, yes, feeding yourself isn’t as easy as it looks. So, good luck, college bound girls. Growing up isn’t easy, but someone’s got to do it.
Do you rebel against your family’s eating restrictions? What’s your favorite cereal? Could you ever eat the same thing every single day? Tell us in the comments.