Students try a taste of intuitive eating

Sophie Skemp, ’21, enjoys delicious meals despite her sugar-free and dairy-free diet.

If your stomach is rumbling on your way home from school, do you alter your route and grab an iced vanilla latte from Starbucks? Do you text a group of friends to grab Chick-Fil-A without thinking twice? Swinging through the drive-through is convenient, satisfying, and social. However, some students embrace a more mindful eating approach. 

The choice to adopt different eating habits can be influenced by a number of factors. Sophie Skemp, ‘21, began her no sugar, no dairy diet for health reasons. 

“I went to a holistic health center in November,” started Skemp. After getting blood work done, she met with a doctor to discuss an altered eating regimen. “There were many reasons that I visited this center, but I primarily chose to change my diet for improved mental health and skin.”

Holistic medicine – a practice that aims to heal by providing proper balance for the whole human body – has greatly increased in popularity over the last decade. Sophie Skemp and her family value the intuitive lifestyle created by this practice. She noted that being more knowledgeable about foods that are harmful to one’s body can be very beneficial.

Josie Wolbers, ‘24, also has a very different diet from the average teenager. Becoming aware of what her body needed led her to adopt a pescatarian- the choice to eat fish but not meat- and dairy-free regimen.

“I completely dropped dairy last year; I wanted to try something new and see if it would make me feel better,” said Wolbers. “I like to be very intuitive with my body.”

Wolbers noted that her decision was heavily influenced by her mother, who has followed a plant-based diet for years. This made it easier for Wolbers to transition into altered eating habits. Her family members were open to the idea and used to preparing and eating along these guidelines.

Diet changes do not come without challenges. Many people feel as though their meal options are greatly restricted. Veronica McDonald, ‘22, highlighted that the difficulty of meal time with her family eventually pushed her to stop a pescatarian diet.

“My parents and brother weren’t pescatarian at the time, and I felt bad making my mom make a separate dish for me at dinner time,” began McDonald. “I would often have to eat microwavable pescatarian meals; it really changed the food dynamic we had.” Dinner is often a time for families to connect and share a meal together. McDonald found that her altered food habits created an unwanted disconnect.

Though there are certainly social drawbacks to diet changes, it can be beneficial to one’s health to try eating intuitively. Skemp stressed the importance of figuring out what’s best for your body.

Skemp said, “I think we often get into a really bad habit of eating unhealthy things. It’s good to switch up your diet and lifestyle and to try new things that could benefit you in many ways.”

Like McDonald, you may realize that altered eating habits are not realistic for you. However, a change in diet and focus on mindful eating makes some people feel better. Focusing on what makes one’s own body feel good is important. The willingness to experiment and strike a balance between what socially and physically fuels a person may improve their overall health, energy, and wellness.