Tuesday, August 25, 2015

megaVOICE: Super Size Me – 4 Healthy Eating Tips for the International Student

By Meghavaty Suresh
Contributing Writer

I still remember my first time eating at Chipotle. 

It was actually my first time having a meal in a chain restaurant in the U.S., and I ordered a chicken burrito bowl with brown rice, corn, and some guacamole.

Yum! I was pleased with my choice.

This was also the first time I truly understood the idea of super sizes. I got my bowl and reached the checkout counter where I was asked the routine question:

“Would you like a drink?”

“Sure. Can I have a small soda please?”

A small soda...just a little something to cool off as you eat your food… And there it was.

Wait, what?

“I’m sorry, I wanted the smallest size, not the large.”

“Honey, this is the smallest size.”


The first thought I had was that this small soda could quench the thirst of a tiny nation.

OK, that’s an exaggeration, but seriously! It was huge. I don’t know if it’s a function 
of economizing everything in India or a secret government policy to hide the concept of super sizing from the masses, but I never came across such massive portions back home. 

In the U.S., alongside the free-flowing soda, you also get buckets of food and cake-sized cookies. Yes, you read that right. A cake-sized cookie. Get a cookie cake from Insomnia and you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s a heavenly world, until one day, you realize that you can’t go without a sugary iced coffee in the morning, a goblet of soda at lunchtime, and a “small” cookie every time boredom hits. 

You'll start to acquire a taste for these foods; then, slowly but surely, you acclimate to the new sizes. Large is the new size zero when it comes to the American food industry.

Six-months into my graduate program and an endless number of unhealthy food choices later, I decided to make a few rules for myself:

Rule 1: Have some cereal and fruit in the morning. No Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks.

Rule 2:
Drink only water with meals. Always. Remove words like Coke, Pepsi, and Sprite from my dictionary.

Rule 3: Have a banana at some point in the day. It fills you up and gives you energy.

Rule 4: Run away from cookies. (I tried. I failed.)

My main point is that with busy school schedules and an enticing new world of vibrantly packaged and marketed food, you may lose track of the most important part of your well-being: your health. Don’t do that. Be smart. Eat smart!

Meghavaty Suresh is a brand engagement specialist at The Guardian. She is originally from Mumbai, India. She earned a master’s in new media at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she realized what it truly meant to be an international student and how best to enjoy the experience. The megaVOICE column is her opportunity to give a voice to the whispers of international students. Megha lives in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter at @meghasuresh.

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