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Concern. Prejudice. Sometimes even fear. We Italians are very attentive to food, to the quality of the products and to what we eat. Right, very right, but often on the issue of nutrition in the States we exaggerate a bit. To give you some more info, to tell you about a direct experience and provide you with some gastronomic suggestions, we asked Margherita Bianchin, our former student-athlete at St. John’s University (New York) and Florida International University (Miami), beach volleyball player of the Italian national team and a professional who is very attentive to nutrition, to give a general overview of her food experience in the United States.

Food is an expression of the country in which we find ourselves, it is a question of culture, identity and for this reason, to live a 360° experience, it must be tried, it must be tasted, because those flavors, those aromas, will remain inside you as confirmed by Margherita, happy reading!

We live in a historical period in which talking about food is becoming more and more controversial. Dietetics is an area that is rapidly gaining ground thanks to the development of certain social networks such as Tiktok and Instagram. Not only doctors and dietitians post their precepts, but also fashion bloggers, food bloggers, personal trainers and influencers who simply want to tell their story. It often happens that, in addition to being a source of inspiration for many, they are also the unintentional cause of bad eating habits by their followers. Having said that, in this article I propose something new and original. Here you will find many ideas and tips on how to eat once you arrive in your new “home”, the American college.

The information you will find is not the result of university studies and does not present itself as rules of life to be taken literally. You won’t find magic formulas for losing weight or gaining weight, but rather the experience of a former student-athlete who lived between New York and Miami and experimented with cuisines from different cultures. I’ll tell you how I was able to enjoy a “new” food while taking into account that performing in the field is a priority and a lot depends on how much healthy food we put into our body.

I still remember the smell of freshly baked bagels when I walked past bakeries in Queens, New York. A sort of doughnut-shaped sandwich that I loved to fill with salmon and Philadelphia cheese or with peanut butter and banana. My favorite breakfast before entering the Carnesecca Arena is doing an intense workout. What about donuts? The answer is yes, they’re just like the donuts that Homer eats. And when you walk into Dunkin Donuts to buy one, you can’t leave the store without having at least one drip coffee with milk.

When you settle in the new continent, you will also hear about a debate that still remains unresolved among Americans: New York pizza (very fine and very large) or Chicago pizza (very thick and with plenty of tomato sauce)? I know you’ll answer… Well, Naples pizza! But trying new versions of this pillar of Italian cuisine is a must and I highly recommend it.

If you’re passing through California, it’s a must to try the burgers at In-N-Out, a fast food restaurant considered by Californians (and me) to be far superior to Mc Donald’s. And if you’re a cheesecake lover, you can’t miss Cheesecake Factory and grab a slice of chocolate cake, as big as your face!

I can still feel the softness of corn bread, a sweet sandwich that my teammates used to make during the Thanksgiving period together with the famous turkey with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.

For us Italians, food is not just fuel, energy that we need to carry out our daily tasks. But it is conviviality, an opportunity to create friendships, new experiences and knowledge of different cultures. For this reason, I have suggested American dishes that in my opinion reflect their desire for sweets, their frenetic rhythm, their culinary culture. Tasting these dishes gives you the opportunity to feel a little bit American too.

The advice I give you, however, is to try these things a little at a time, to dilute them over time. Many successful athletes prefer a strict diet, and it is thanks in part to this that they are able to perform at the highest level. This does not mean that we should never indulge in a “cheat” because, as I have already stated above, there are dishes that deserve our attention. It’s just a matter of eating a balanced diet and staying within the day’s energy intake. Don’t forget that you are in America because of your physical and sporting skills. If you try all this food in the first month, you risk regretting it and having a bad experience.

Generally, the states where I think people eat healthiest are Florida and California. This is because they are highly influenced by Hispanic culture. Rice, chicken, avocados, beans, maduros, plantains, and salmon are all suitable foods for a student-athlete. If, however, your college is located in states other than those I have mentioned, fear not. This is just my personal opinion, and the healthiest options are available at all colleges. Not to forget a fundamental aspect: many athletic departments provide their athletes with the advice of a dietician/dietician and my advice is to use them as much as possible. To know how to follow a proper diet in America, there is nothing better than inquiring from an expert who knows native food and its properties well!