Q: I’m a broke college student whose mom still supports her (I’m 21). We don’t have much money so I don’t really get to eat much throughout the day. I usually eat dinner and some junk food. However I notice that when I do get the opportunity to eat, I eat my food really fast. When I am done eating I sit there wondering like where did my food go. So, my question is why do I eat my food so fast and how can I stop doing that? —Veronica
A: Oh wow. That brings back a few memories. When I was in high school, my mom and dad were divorcing and my mom was busy working and trying to make ends meet—and we didn’t have much food in the house. But when I’d go out with friends, I’d stuff down a huge burrito, fries, pizza, as much as I could get my hands on. It’s not surprising that someone who is unsure that they will have enough food would gobble it up quickly and desperately when it’s in front of them. It’s like your body and brain sense the scarcity of food and push you to eat, eat, eat in case there won’t be enough around for you later.
But the urge to stuff the food down isn’t just psychological. When we go too long without eating, our blood sugar drops and our bodies desperately crave food and energy. So, one thing I do is make sure that I have something to eat every few hours. That way my blood sugar stays even and my hunger stays under control for the most part, making me less likely to speed-eat my food.
I know you said you don’t have much money to spend, but there are inexpensive and still filling things you can carry with you and eat throughout the day. Like a banana, a single pack of peanuts from a convenience store, soy chips or Baked Lays. And good old Top Ramen and pb&j snadwiches, while boring, are pretty cheap and nutritious.
Also, have you talked to your mom about this? I know you said you guys don’t have much money, but if she knew how important it was for you to have more regular access to healthier food, she may be able to make something work. I’m sure you don’t want to put more pressure on her than she’s already under, but your health is too important not to tell her. I hope some of this helps. Let me know how it goes for you and feel free to write again, anytime!