Eating & Crying My Way through Midterms

CREDIT: tumblr user remindmewhatiusedtolike
CREDIT: tumblr user remindmewhatiusedtolike

Midterms are here.

And at this moment in time, I am surprised to say that I do not feel extremely stressed out. Since my exams and projects are spread out through this month, I am anticipating my transformation into the peak definition of a hot mess by the time midterms are done and as finals loom in the distance. I suppose that is why I want more than ever to hide in my basement forty-five minutes away from campus and stay there until all of my academic responsibilities fly away. With this in mind, it is important to figure out the ways we can all destress and to have snippets of quality time where we are able to seek comfort and positivity. And for me, I am definitely one of those people who benefit from eating good food and crying.

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What is Orthorexia Nervosa?

Recently there has been a big healthy eating craze with a shift from traditional fast-food to more “fast-casual” dining with much healthier options, and many pushes toward eating organic, vegetarian or vegan diets. This is a great thing, however, for some people it can also become an obsession called orthorexia nervosa. Similar to other eating disorders, it starts as a simple desire to eat healthier, which then grows into an unhealthy obsession on food quality and purity. At its severest it can consume one with constant thoughts of what, when, and how much to eat; prevent them from eating out with friends because restaurants don’t have things they believe they can eat; and cause them to spiral and self-punish if they eat something not “healthy” enough. This leads an orthorexic’s diet to eventually become so restricted that it deprives them of nutrients they need, and not only impairs their life and relationships, but, ironically, their physical health.

Though orthorexia is similar to other eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, it is not officially recognized by the DSM-5, the fifth Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The term was first used by Steven Bratman, MD in 1996, to help explain to his patients the idea that what they deemed as “healthy” eating may not always be what is best for them. The term has recently gained popularity with an increase in patients with similar symptoms.

Another reason for it’s recent popularity growth is a popular health blogger who found herself with the same condition. In an article with the New York Daily News Jordan Younger, originally known as “The Blonde Vegan” said she began to notice that her attempt to eat healthy was becoming an obsession that was effecting her daily life. It started effecting her health, including her menstruation, and eventually she decided that  something had to change. She told the Daily News, “I just didn’t want food to control me anymore. I saw the people around me who I loved very much just able to enjoy their food in a way that I wasn’t doing anymore.” After that she became devoted to recovery and even changed her blog’s name to The Balanced Blond.

Orthorexia is similar to anorexia and bulimia because it actually becomes much less about the food and much more about control. The NEDA, National Eating Disorder Association, says there are many “underlying motivations, which can include safety from poor health, compulsion for complete control, escape from fears, wanting to be thin, improving self-esteem, searching for spirituality through food, and using food to create an identity,” for why eating healthy may become a compulsion for some people and not others. A lot of these pressures can come from personal problems, or societies constant pressure to look a very certain way, and a newer pressure to eat a certain way.

It is important to remember that just because you strive to have a healthy diet does not mean you are orthorexic. However, if you or someone you know match these guidelines from the NEDA it may be a good idea to talk to a doctor:

“1) It [eating clean] is taking up an inordinate amount of time and attention in your life. 

2) Deviating from that diet is met with guilt and self-loathing.

3) It is used to avoid life issues and leaves you separate and alone.”

Food Renegade also has a quiz to help those who think they might be orthorexic. 

While orthorexia is not a condition that a doctor can diagnose, they can often help with recovery, or refer you to someone who can. Many clinics, such as Futures Palm Beach can help those affected discover the roots of their condition such as low self-esteem, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder with extensive therapy and give them a safe and comforting place to detox. 

Health, Opinion

“Master of None” & the Millennial’s Relationship with Food


Aziz Ansari’s recently released Netflix show Master of None is a hit for many reasons: it’s diverse cast, thoughtful plot lines and interesting structure separate it from the wave of other “must watch” TV shows of today. While all of these components are important to the show’s unique style, there is another aspect that sets it apart: protagonist Dev’s relationship with food.

Food is a major thematic component in the series. In Master of None, food excites, connects and entertains all of its characters. Restaurants set the backdrop for where they have enlightening conversations about parents’ histories, revelations of sexism occur over Instagrams of frittatas and a pasta maker becomes the source of a relationship fight. Aziz Ansari has said that his character’s obsession with food is a reflection of his real life self, but his personal passion mirrors a greater cultural trend that is pertinent to Millennials. (By the way, I know the term “Millennials” is annoying to use, but so is “twenty-somethings”, “Generation Y-ers” and “us youngin’s.”)

Everyone likes food, but the way Millennials like food is something worth talking about. Gone are the days of McDonald’s and TV dinners. We like food that is healthier and greener and overall, trendier. Fast food chains are hurting and fast casual restaurants like Panera and Chipotle are replacing them as the go-to for a quick dinner. This growing business model encapsulates everything Millennials expect from our food now: quality, freshness, customization and even a little bit of an atmosphere. People want to know what is in their food and where their food is from. The discourse on food has gone from whether or not something tastes good, to the deeper topics of the moral implications of dietary habits. Were discussions of veganism and the importance of free-range meat being had between 20-year-olds 10 years ago? Or have they ever happened?

Preparing meals as a past time is even becoming popular. Cooking is a cool hobby now. According to market research company Mintel, 2 out of 3 Millennials classify themselves as “Casual Cooking Enthusiasts.” Whether they’re any good or not is subjective, but the fact that they’re viewing it as a hobby instead of something that’s necessary for their health is worth noting. Buzzfeed (the most trusted media source of our time) has a specialty food section that specializes in sharing recipes; its Twitter has 149,000 followers and over 11 million likes on Facebook. People tag their friends in the comments about desserts they want to make with the same kind of enthusiasm one saves for a night out.

Whether or not Masters of None will be renewed is yet to be seen, but if it is, I’m sure food will continue to be a major influence in the show. If not, the same sort of stressful decision-making choices such as where it is a pair of friends should be getting bubble tea are being had all across America. Foodie culture is no longer just a quirky penchant of a select few; it’s the norm now.


How to Have a Vegetarian Thanksgiving

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, the holiday season can be uncomfortable in terms of food. You sit around the table with your family as they all stare at your plate trying to figure out what you will eat.

This time around, you can have the opportunity of showing your family and friends how delicious plant-based food can be.

These are some of the plates that I plan on cooking for my Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

Roasted Squash with Red Onion, Oregano and Mint

Tgiving issue: roasted squash, brussel sprout slaw

Easy and so delicious, this warm appetizer will be loved by everyone at the table. It’s as easy as baking the squash and spicing it up. Enjoy.

Recipe can be found here.

Zucchini and Caramelized Onion Quiche


Delicious and filling. Works well as a side dish or even a main dish. This is the kind of dish where you can choose the vegetables you love the most. In my case, zucchini is the chosen one. I suggest squash, tomato or mushrooms. This is a yummy, easy and quick addition to the table.

Recipe can be found here.

Squash and Celeriac Quinoa Stuffing


Give your classic Thanksgiving stuffing a twist.

Replace the bread with quinoa, and treat yourself to a healthy stuffing. This is a great vegan approach to the stuffing, where you replace classic ingredients like chicken broth and eggs for butternut squash and celery root. This is healthy, full of protein and the quinoa will give great texture to the dish.

Recipe can be found here.

Whipped Coco Cream Tart with Fresh Berries (Vegan)


Delight yourself and your guests with this quick, easy tart. The berries are your choosing. This tart will look so gorgeous, you will be surprised!

Recipe can be found here.

Chocolate Pecan Pie (Vegan)


Some delicious vegan chocolate pie to end the meal. This pie won’t take you longer than half an hour to make, and you will thank yourself you did.

Recipe can be found here.

Additional tips can be found on Food&Wine’s website.


What’s Up With the Mother Grain? Your Quinoa Questions Answered

Quinoa is a delicious edible seed that is eaten and cooked as a grain, nicknamed the “Mother Grain.” It is extremely nutritious and high in protein and amino acids, the reason why people consider it a “super food.” I have to admit that I am huge fan. As a vegetarian, its a great source of protein. It is also extremely versatile and can be used in many different types of plates.

Quinoa has been planted since at least 300 B.C. in the Andean region, from Chile to Colombia. Considered a sacred seed by natives, it was used in religious rituals and did not become extremely popular in the West until five to seven years back.

So, what happens when a crop that was exclusively consumed by only Andean farmers becomes a top choice for all western foodies?

The two main countries that produce quinoa are Peru and Bolivia. In Bolivia, the country’s crop expanded almost 40 times in production from 2000 to 2009. In Peru, production grew almost 20 percent more from 2008 to 2009. Peru exported a worth of $30 million in quinoa in that same year.

For ethical eaters, concerns grew in terms of the tripling of the price of the grain, as well as the potential environmental effects of growing the crop at such an accelerated rate. 2013 was named the International Year of Quinoa. A year where quinoa production reached its peak and where most consequences started to become clear.

In a positive sense, it is providing an income to farmers whose only source of retribution comes from quinoa. On the other hand, the demand for quinoa is so great that it is prompting Bolivian farmers to dispose of traditional farming practices, something that can endanger the ecosystem of the Andes region. The problem is that quinoa is a very delicate crop, which only grows in high lands with cold weather.

It is not a feasible solution to begin planting it in other countries. The crops simply do not flourish as similarly as they do in the Andean region and this will only take away from the farmers who have worked the crop for years.

The real environmental problem with quinoa crops is the potential desertification of the growing region. Changing quinoa from a subsistence crop to a mass commodity leads to farmers working the soil year-round, which degrades the land and damages the soil. This could lead to higher incidence of pests and for the need of farmers to begin using pesticides, making quinoa no longer organic (one of its main appeals for some people.)

Another factor are the llamas. Once they roamed free and grazed the lands where quinoa was planted cyclically but now, they are being moved away to farm even more quinoa on untreated soil. Production of quinoa, and the maintenance of the soil was dependent on the llamas which no longer get the chance to do their work.

So, what is one as a consumer to do?

I would say the first thing is to buy it moderately. You do not need to eat quinoa every day. Make it some what of a treat.

Most importantly, I would say learn where your quinoa comes from. Buying fair trade quinoa (even though its more expensive than the one they sell at Trader Joe’s) will reassure you that the farmers are getting paid for their hard work, while you enjoy the nutritious grain.

Now that you are informed of the wonders, and consequences of eating quinoa, these are some suggestions to how you can enjoy the “Mother Grain.”

  1. Toss it into your salad, or just about anything else! Make sure to cook it before hand. Quinoa tastes so good on its own, that it is a great compliment to almost any meal. Replace rice or pasta, and use quinoa instead for a healthier meal.
  2. Make Quinoa Patties. So easy!
  3. Make Quinoa Chocolate Cake. Yes, it’s real, delicious and gluten free!
  4. Quinoa Black Bean Burgers
  5.  You can also find quinoa bread and quinoa pasta in store as gluten free alternatives.


Health, Opinion

Surprise, You Have Anemia

I’ve been lucky for most of my college career to not be the stereotypical “broke college student,” because I worked a lot more than I wished I had, looking back. However, after I spent all my money in Europe last spring, I was met with more bills, my sometimes impulsive spending habits, and no savings. Thankfully, I lived at home, but I was paying hundreds of dollars a month for school without any help.

My organizational skills are awful, and that includes budgeting. I decided the best way to save money was on food. Done right, this would have been a great idea, except I didn’t limit the food I bought at restaurants going out, I limited what I ate for my daily meals. I rarely packed a lunch, and between work and school, I’d be out of the house more than 12 hours most days. I think I lived an entire semester on yogurt and bananas from my office and muffins or bagels from Dunkin Donuts.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

I felt fine at first. I finally lost weight, so I was really happy about that. But then, I started feeling worse. The first thing that hit me was the exhaustion. I was so tired all the time, and sometimes I even found it hard to stand. I was dizzy and lightheaded often, especially when I stood up. My heart would suddenly start beating fast and sometimes I had unexplained chest pain. I was rarely hungry, and when I was, the thought of eating made me nauseous. I was short of breath for no reason at all, and was beginning to be horrified at just how out of shape I thought I was. (I’m sitting on my couch writing this now and I still can’t seem to get enough downloadoxygen breathing regularly.) It took a long time for me to make a doctor’s appointment, because I never thought to put all those symptoms together. I didn’t think I was sick enough to go to the doctor’s and I thought I’d be wasting everyone’s time.

My mom finally forced me to go and even the doctor was puzzled. She told me she couldn’t see anything wrong, but there must be something. After a bunch of blood tests, we finally figured out that I have iron deficiency anemia. I didn’t even know that was a thing. It’s not serious, and I’m so glad for that, but even after taking iron pills for a month, I don’t feel much better. Apparently, it takes a long time for your body to recover from such a severe lack of iron.

Eating Well in College is Important

Now that my senior year is coming and I need to get an internship, I will be even shorter on cash and anemia is the last thing I have the time or attention to worry about.  We’ve all seen those news stories on Facebook telling us that we can’t eat right on a minimum wage budget. Even though this is sort of true, health problems down the road can cost even more than you could imagine. Eating right is so important, especially in college, when we are pushing our bodies to the max with work, schoolwork, partying, extra curriculars and all-nighters.

There are other ways aside from expensive take out to eat well and be a responsible adult.. My sister (somehow) wakes up early every morning to give herself enough time to pack a lunch and eat breakfast. I’m lucky If I can wake up early enough to put on makeup before rushing out to catch my bus. However, I can’t just take my health for granted even in college, because it could affect me for the rest of my life. I’m so thankful that my anemia is nothing serious and it won’t be so long-term, but I realize now the freshman fifteen isn’t the only unhealthy side effect I need to worry about when eating in college.