Avoiding The Dangers of the Isla Vista Diet
by Christina Ly


The Isla Vista Diet has nothing to do with losing or gaining weight; it has everything to do with convenience and cost. It may be one of the easiest and cheapest diets you have ever come across so far, and the guidelines are pretty easy to adhere to. But it gets even better — you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. If you haven’t eaten yet today, you can actually begin following the Isla Vista Diet now! 

That’s because the Isla Vista Diet only requires you to purchase one meal a day, such as a sandwich from the I.V. Deli Mart or an order of Freebirds nachos. Half of it should be consumed during the first half of the day, and the second half serves as dinner. You don’t have to cook, wash dishes, or go grocery shopping! 

Reality check: this diet is followed all too often, and it can lead to all sorts of hazards to your health. The day-to-day schedule of many college students is so impacted and constrained for time that they do not have the opportunity to eat wholesome meals. When they do have time to return home, it is often only for a brief moment, and they are frequently just too exhausted to prepare food. This is when that leftover sandwich from earlier in the day starts to look like a good choice for dinner. 

Our bodies are intricate systems that require careful maintenance to perform well. Yes, you can still get to the finish line without making pit stops, but you will get to the finish line with unfavorable conditions. Each meal, like each pit stop, ensures that you are equipped to sustain through the day and finish well, ready for another round tomorrow. 

The relationship you have with your body may be the most demanding relationship you will ever be in; you cannot fool it simply by ordering every topping for your Freebirds nachos.  As college students, we generally do not look at food in terms of health benefits because time and convenience have become more important factors, but taking this shortcut can be problematic.  Providing your body with only one entrée a day, regardless of its size, limits the amount of nutrients you can take in, thus preventing your body from performing at its best.  

One way to avoid being a victim of the Isla Vista Diet is to plan ahead. Whenever you have time, take a good hour or so to prepare and package yourself a few meals that you can grab on your way out the door. Go beyond the sandwich shops in terms of quality and nutrients by using lean cold cuts, 100% whole wheat bread, and a variety of vegetables, not just lettuce and tomatoes. Also, try preparing meals ahead of time and storing them in the refrigerator, so the next time you come home from a long day you have an array of completely cooked meals waiting for you. All you  need to do is heat one up!

Another thing you can do to avoid the Isla Vista Diet is to take snacks with you when you leave home. Trader Joe’s has a large selection of dried fruits and nuts that you can easily pack along in a Ziploc bag. Snacks such as these will provide your body with a variety of essential nutrients while keeping you from purchasing less beneficial snacks from vendors. 

It’s easy to push aside eating a balanced diet everyday, and everyone will find themselves practicing the Isla Vista Diet on one or more days here as a UCSB student. The important thing is to at least make an effort to have a variety of foods each and every single day.  Your body will thank you.