Oh how I miss eating in the dining hall sometimes. There are just some nights that I do not want to cook! The dining hall is a great tool for us busy college students. The service is quick and there is even an option to get a bagged meal to take with you to class if you can’t make it to lunch or dinner. There are so many different options at every meal that it can be hard to decide what to eat most of the time!
Before coming to college, my parents would make very healthy meals for my brother and I and we rarely had snacks or treats in the house. When I arrived at college, I couldn’t believe my eyes at the amount of desserts, cereal, pizza, pasta and other food that was available every single day. It was hard not want to eat these foods every day. But eating these foods every day can come with a price.
Many new students succumb to the “freshman 15” when they arrive at college. I gained 10 pounds of the freshman 15 and that was enough to make me want to change. The dining hall is not trying to sabotage incoming freshmen with all of these unhealthy choices they have available. In fact, they don’t have to be considered unhealthy if they’re eaten in moderation!
It’s perfectly fine to indulge in the oreo pie or chocolate chip cookies as long as it’s not every night. And there are other small things that you can do to healthily navigate the dining hall.
Here’s what I started doing in my sophomore year:
- I opted for coffee, hot tea, or water instead of juice or soda – One of the easiest things you can do to limit your sugar intake is to avoid sugary beverages and yes, juice has a crazy amount of sugar in it. Also, while making my daily coffee or tea, I would have it with a minimal amount of creamer or even black.
- I tried to have a salad at least every other day – The salad bar contains a variety of vegetables, seeds/nuts, and other toppings to put in your salad. But try not to get carried away! If you’re putting a ridiculous amount of dressing or croutons on your salad, is it still a salad? Instead of creamy dressings, I always pick balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
- At late night, I would try my best to grab from the fruit bar instead of the main line. That didn’t happen all the time, but it helps if you’re not eating pizza and mac and cheese wedges every night.
These are just a few tips to make eating healthy in the dining hall easier. Now the next time you’re in the dining hall, maybe later tonight, give it a try!