The Struggle to Diet in College When Food is Life: A Memoir

By Natalie Cioffari


Every morning when I wake up, I am thinking about food. Every night before I go to sleep, I am thinking about food.

Sound familiar? If you’re anything like me, food is life.

Food is something that can make or break your day. When was the last time you finished a pizza unhappy? The answer is never. When was the last time you felt sad after indulging in ice cream? The answer is, again, never.

Unfortunately, however, all those pizza and ice cream trips can start to add up. Even though you might try to ignore the fact that your diet mainly consists of carbs, and that your favorite pants are starting to feel tight, you realize that maybe something has to change.

I used to be a competitive athlete in high school where I exercised six days a week and the only carb I ate was the occasionally pasta before the game. If you do not believe me, I am sure my mom will be happy to pull out the photo album.

Well, all that stopped when I got to college. I wasn’t playing competitively anymore, and I got really used to watching Netflix and ordering food to be delivered to my dorm. I mean, I had Chinese, pizza and burgers all at my finger tips – I mean, who can resist?

At first, it seemed disgusting to eat fast and fried food every week, but hey, I guess people change their mind when they do not have mom and dad controlling what’s for dinner.

What’s worse is that during the summer before my senior year I discovered Merritt Canteen, Jerry’s Pizza and Golden Empire Chinese. Yes, I know I am late to the game, but seriously though, how did I survive without those three restaurants?

Of course, eating all those kinds of foods can take a tole on your body and mind. You start feeling sad because the “freshman 15” becomes the “every year 15.”

Yet, I do not think I could ever give up pizza or Chinese food. That is like giving up breathing: you simply cannot survive without it.

Dieting, or should I say watching what you eat, in college is quite difficult. If you’re twenty one, you have Red’s Pub with cheap beer and great bar food. If you have access to a computer, you can order food online to be delievered your dorm or house. If you have a car, you can drive to any fast food place you want at anytime of day.

Seriously though, shout out to McDonalds, Burger King and Merritt being on the same strip. Like, am I really going to deny my boyfriend when he suggests a trip to Merritt or McDonalds? Boyfriend plus burgers equals double the happiness.

Believe me, I tried the whole “diet” thing and it only made me even more upset because I stopped eating the things I loved all together. However, during the process of it all, I found ways to eat my favorite things without binging a whole days worth of calories in one Chinese food order.

Look, I am no expert at any of this stuff, I’ll admit to that. Yet, I do firmly believe that making small changes in your life, whatever that may be, is a step in the right direction.

No one said I ever had to give up pizza, I just can’t have it two to three days out of the week. If anything, I made it to be a specialty food that I only eat when I go out with friends or family.

That one small change led to another small change that led to me taking an oath to only go to the drive-thru once a month.

For those of you out there struggling, I feel you. It’s hard, but remember, baby steps. You got this. We got this.

Now, who wants to go get some ice cream?

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