Your body is not a math equation

Written by Nandini Saluja, Teaching Kitchen Instructor
Reviewed by University Health Services Registered Dietitian Nutritionists

If we believe the lie that our bodies are a math equation, we can fall into a dangerous trap. We fall into this trap when the number of calories determine what food is bought, when we avoid snacking in hopes of preventing the freshman fifteen, or when we exercise only to earn a cheat meal.  All these consume mental space, energy, and time in the lives of most college students. This compounds with the stress of classes, exams, jobs, and everything else which can make us feel overwhelmed.

Nina teaching students during a cooking class.
Nina teaching students during a cooking class.

It is easy to find ourselves lost in the unobtainable standards of the social media space. And so many times, it seems easier to arrange our life in a nice, clean box with a number chart telling us what to eat, how many steps to take, or how many calories to burn. This feels like the only option, but what happens when we catch ourselves deviating from these inflexible plans and numbers? Often times we punish ourselves and that creates a whole new set of problems.

It’s okay if it takes time and experience to learn that we are dynamic, diverse individuals born with different minds, bodies, capabilities, and needs. What’s right for one person, probably isn’t right for the next person. What’s helpful for someone today, may not be appropriate tomorrow. There are days where we need more food to sustain our energy levels, days when we want to eat to experience different flavors or connect to a community, or times that we move our bodies just for the joy of it!

We change and grow every day and, despite what the media and social norms may want us to believe, there is no one correct number or equation that can define how we feel and what we need. Listening to our own body and learning to trust our individual wants and needs can help us celebrate what makes us unique and encourage us to confidently Root for Every Body.