Speaking of college, though, I'd like to dedicate this post to my fellow college Paleo enthusiasts, because it seems like we're a growing number! When I first started this lifestyle in February 2010, I didn't know anyone else who ate this way-- I was the girl with the weird diet who wouldn't go out for Wawa milkshakes and would eat Indian food without rice and naan. Since most college events revolve around crappy food, living Paleo/Primal can be extremely isolating-- declining gets you away from the temptation, but going and not eating makes everyone question you and make you feel like you're totally crazy. I'm not going to deny the fact that I felt very alone that first year-- my friends were all really great about my decision to eat clean, but it was still hard if they were all going out for fro-yo or ordering in Insomnia Cookies. I thought that I must be the only college student who ate like this-- because who else in their right mind would give up pizza, mac & cheese, hoagies, and cupcakes?
When I discovered the whole Paleo movement this past January and started networking with other enthusiasts, I noticed that I was younger than everyone else. Although this didn't bother me because the Paleo/Primal community doesn't discriminate based on age (or anything else), it still would've been nice to find people around my age who could relate to being Paleo in college. Over the summer, however, especially with the birth of the International Paleo Movement Group on Facebook and the numerous threads on Paleo Hacks, I started noticing more and more younger people entering the Paleosphere. In fact, the blog Primal University was created back in August geared just towards college Paleos! So I'm not crazy: we are a growing number!
Yes, being Paleo in college can be isolating and frustrating. However, there are so many reasons to adopt this lifestyle as a college student-- the main one being for the stronger immune system. Like I've mentioned in previous posts, I don't get sick (knock on wood), and haven't since I went Paleo. My friends, however, are always sick, and I know that poor nutrition (and thus a weakened immune system) is the primary cause. Your body is like a machine-- fuel it properly and it'll run smoothly and won't break down. With so much going on in school, being sick can be devastating-- making things up from missing classes, rehearsals, practices, or meetings is a hell of a lot harder than eating well! Paleo also taught me about the importance of sleep-- while I think nutrition plays the largest part in being healthy, sleep is absolutely necessary, and I think I get more sleep than 99% of college students. (I usually get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, even on totally packed days... I don't know how some people only run on 4 or 5!)
Another great advantage is that it saves you money. Yes, you might spend more on higher-quality food, but you'll save a lot by not going out for pizza, ice cream, sandwiches, milkshakes, fro-yo, and $6 Venti Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mochas (or any of the other crazy-named drinks) at Starbucks. Further, I eat out a lot less now because I just don't trust the ingredients at most restaurants-- I never know if there's hidden gluten/soy/vegetable oil/sugar in the food, so it's easier (and better for my health) to just decline most "Let's go out for food!" invites. Not only will that keep my body happy, but it'll keep my wallet happy too.
I also find that I'm a lot less stressed out about things, and I know that a lot of people in the Paleo community can attest to stress levels dropping since going Paleo as well. Semesters are really busy-- every time you finish one thing, there are five more things to finish too! My first semester of college was the only time I wasn't Paleo, and I remember being stressed out about the littlest assignments; now, I tend to handle things pretty well and very rarely freak out about school or extracurriculars. It's actually pretty amazing how much more time you have to be productive when you're not stressed out about things 24/7! I was completely clueless about cortisol pre-Paleo, but now I realize just how much nutrition is connected to absolutely everything else in your body-- and good nutrition certainly helped decrease my cortisol levels!
Everyone has the right to be healthy and happy, so taking control of your life through eating Paleo/Primal/real food is something that can be done at any age. I strongly encourage everyone to give this lifestyle a try, but I'd really love to see more Paleo students! Less sickness, money saved, and less stress? Sounds pretty great!
Since this is a college-themed post, I'd also like to tell you that I'll be studying abroad in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh next semester, so look out for posts starting in January about my food experiences in the UK!
Quote of the Day:
"With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world." -The Dalai Lama