The day starts like this: the 7 a.m. alarm rings, she makes her way downstairs, brews four to five cups of coffee and drinks them all before heading to her 8 a.m. class.
At lunch, she has a couple of glasses of diet Mountain Dew. In the middle of the afternoon, around 3 p.m., she has another canned soda. In preparing for her night classes or study sessions, she usually consumes an energy drink. If she needs a boost after that, in the middle of the night, No-Doz almost certainly always does the trick.
Katelyn Girvin, a Lansing sophomore, said she needs her guilty pleasure of caffeine, to stay on top of her difficult academic schedule. Without being mentally alert at all times, the triple psychology, political science and legal studies major said she could easily lose her way.
“I haven’t really been able to enjoy myself or go out with friends. Thanksgiving break is the first time in months I’ve been able to relax and just watch TV for a few hours,” Girvin said. “It’s always ‘I need to move to next thing, I need more caffeine.’”
While Girvin recognizes the prominent role of caffeine in her lifestyle, it’s something she wishes she could go without.
“I get headaches if I go without caffeine, and I always question, ‘Is this really a withdrawal?’ But you know, according to my psychology textbooks, it is,” Girvin said “… There are aspects to caffeine I do heavily enjoy; this rush you get, this adrenaline feeling, you’re using caffeine because it makes you happy.”
Girvin said she has been consuming energy drinks since she was in eighth grade, and her family was constantly critical of her consumption of the products. She believes this criticism has a large impact on why caffeine is viewed as a guilty pleasure to her personally.
“I think it depends on the person what a guilty pleasure is; it depends on what you were told growing up,” Girvin said. “If you grew up in a family that was in a constant health kick, always watching calories, some foods would be considered a bad thing, a deviance, and you would carry that with you. It depends on different morals instilled on you, and how you as a person respond to those morals, and how often they were enforced.”
Caffeine is not the only guilty pleasure frequent amongst college students. Often times other unhealthy foods also take prevalence.
Fast food is Livonia junior Shannon Angel’s guilty pleasure. Taco Bell, in particular.
For Angel, it’s the chicken quesadillas that hit the spot, as well as plenty of mild sauce packets. Taco Bell is a guilty pleasure because it’s fast food, she said. But, that doesn’t mean that Angel regrets eating it.
“Taco Bell is amazing and having it once a week is not a bad thing,” Angel said.
Saginaw sophomore Aleksis Landers has another branch of food as her guilty pleasure. She said her guilty pleasure is chocolate oranges and Christmas peppermint nougat, which she described as her favorite holiday treats.
“Whenever winter comes, most people look forward to holidays, and snow and winter activities. I look forward to the chewy, minty taste of peppermint nougat,” Landers said. “My grandmother and mom always keep a small jar on the table for guests in the winter, but I always end up eating most of them.”
Landers holds a considerably higher view of her guilty pleasure than Girvin, noting the holiday candy is a positive force in her life.
“I enjoy them because of the memories and joy each one holds for me,” Landers said. “My grandmother would always keep the peppermint nougat in a jar on the living room table when I was younger. My mother is the only one who buys me chocolate oranges. It’s kind of like this bond her and I share.”
Guilty pleasures, Landers said, are perfectly alright if not taken overboard.
“Obviously, they’re OK in moderation,” Landers said. “But they could become negative if they are consumed too much, and are done too often.”