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COLUMN

Taking Time to Eat Right

Elaine Wan

Cheese pizza, strawberry frozen yogurt, teriyaki chicken, California rolls and wild berry bagels are just a medley of lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates that fulfill your essential daily intake of vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids and glucose. Whether you get the same nutrients from fish, carrot sticks, yogurt, spinach and oatmeal does not matter, because what you eat is not important. As finals week approaches, food is no longer important, cooking becomes a diversion, and caffeinated elixirs become most students’ main source of energy.

For those who have time to enjoy and choose what we eat, exposing their tastebuds to a variety of flavors is a pleasure and a beneficial study break. A variety of foods broadens our horizons and cultivates interests into the many cultures in this world. Japanese cuisine offers a taste of fresh fish and vegetables. Italian cuisine layers tomato and cream sauces on an array of geometrical pastas. Chinese cuisine combines vegetables, meats, rice and noodles in a simple stir fry. Indian cuisine not only emphasizes its food with exotic spices, but leaves an unforgettable experience when you eat with your fingers.

For those of us who barely have time to work (never mind sleep), deciding what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat and who to eat with, becomes a very challenging task. Although eating nutritious and palatable food is a great concern, within the last two weeks of tests, I’ve convinced myself that simplicity is bliss. Although bananas and cereal are not comparable to tasty scrambled eggs and bacon, it is easier to get tired of eggs and meat than it is to get tired of cereal. A bowl of rice and beans can be as filling as a burger and fries. A glass of water can quench your thirst as well as a bottle of Coke.

I am aware that I seem to be advocating eating healthy, but what I’m really suggesting is that anything that is simple or nutritious can taste delicious. A few slices of bread can taste as good as french toast if you put jam or Nutella on it. Frozen yogurt can taste as good as ice cream.

It is important to eat a “balanced meal” composed of the five food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and sweets. Your meals should also provide you with all the essential vitamins and protein, but who has time for that? You can go to Lobdell, Walker, or your dorm kitchen to pick up a complete meal. You can also store a stash of groceries in your room. You can also survive on canned and dried goods. You can also get the same nutrients from a small, simple meal.

At MIT, stress can lead to many eating disorders and irregular eating schedules. We usually eat what we can scramble for. It is important to eat when you are hungry, but if you could choose between a bagel and a jelly donut to satisfy your hunger, I would suggest a berry bagel. A bagel is simple, nutritious and can be easily purchased on your way to class in the coffee shop or cafeterias. Many bagels are not more nutritious than eating many donuts, but they fill you up more quickly, so you won’t eat as much. Bagels may not taste as good as a jelly donut, but, besides your tastebuds, your body probably won’t know the difference. Bagels and donuts both get metabolized into glucose and is readily used by your body. Although the donut contains more calories, it would take your body longer to burn.

It is important for food to be tasty and delicious when you have time to enjoy it, but, when you are pressed for time, a simple meal that is good for you will do.