I took a crash course in eating like a student… and failed.

At the age of 40, I have just gone back to university for a second Masters degree. There are 33 of us, aged from about 24 to 54, which is a rather common age range for this kind of degree. On the whole, however, the population on campus is young, slim, beautiful and healthy-looking. And young. And slim.

“Well, honey? Did you feel all young again?” my dear husband asked me after the first day of class. I said “No.” Anyone who gets up before dawn to go to university, but first has to fold a hamperful of laundry and fix two packed lunches for the kids and set the table with Nutella and Weetabix does not “feel young” heading off to university. You feel practically renegade.

It was easier than I thought, getting back into the rhythm of lessons and taking notes and going to the university library with my student ID. Of course – at 40 – I kept muttering something about the relevant section always being on the bleeding top floor of the bleeding library as I dragged myself up the endless-seeming stairs with my bag and old ladies’ handbag, but I eventually made it and lived.

Day 2, I drove home right after class to pick up the kids for piano lesson. 

Day 3, it was for rugby training. 

Day 4, I found myself in between classes at lunchtime and suddenly realized that I had no idea what I was going to do for food. I walked around for a bit and decided to join one of the many queues for lunch along the main building. My choice was random. I asked the kid behind me what was good, she said “kebab”. It took a good 15 minutes to work my way to the counter, where I realized that A) student food was cheap and B) it was a good thing because I had less than 7 euro in my wallet. It got me a goats’ cheese and tomato panini and a portion of chips.


It tasted OK (I did wonder if I could make panini at home by jamming a sandwich under my steam iron), but looking around, I saw that everyone around me was eating starch, with fried starch, with buttered and toasted starch stuck together with melted cheese, with mayo and ketchup, and quite possibly a can of sugary drink. How the heck do they look so good in skinny jeans????

I felt stuffed from my “meal” all day – the only vegetable I had consisted of two paper-thin slices of tomato in the panini.

Bottom line:

I am too old for this shit. No way am I going to be able to eat chips four days a week and not turn into a blimp by Christmas.

I am going to have to bring my lunch in a bento box and fill it with quinoa salad, feta, olives, tomatoes, and other stuff that will set me off even more as a “mature student”, which is a nice way of saying “middle-aged mother-of-three”.

This is what I like to eat:

All I need to do now is figure out how to carry it to uni in my old ladies’ handbag…

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