Now that I am no longer home and back at school I have to adjust to the food that is offered here, which isn't exactly always healthy. As I can tell you from two years of experience, it can be pretty hard to eat well as a college student. College just seems to throw up a lot of roadblocks to healthy eating that non-students don't seem to have to deal with, including super tight budgets, lack of cooking tools and ridiculously busy schedules. Although there may be a lot of options offered, much of it could even vaguely be considered healthy.
However, there is still hope for those who live on campus, like me. While you may not be able to eat perfectly, you can get close, and doing good is what really counts. Let's look at some strategies for getting the healthiest bang for your buck in the dining centers.
LIMIT YOURSELF TO ONLY THE GOOD OPTIONS
Even though being on a meal plan means you're forced to eat at a certain place, you're still faced with a plethora of choice when you enter that dining hall. The key to eating healthily on a meal plan is making the right choices and steering clear of the bad ones.
Here are some solid meal choices I've found in my own dining centers:
- Grilled chicken
Salad bar (this was my main staple)
Hard-boiled eggs at the salad bar
Make an effort to learn about all the different food your dining center offers, and start finding some healthy items to start eating regularly. Then, all you have to do is stay away from the bad stuff.
To avoid the temptation of making impulsive decisions at the dining center, let your friends know that you're eating healthy and that you're only allowed to get certain foods. Since you probably eat with friends, they'll be right there to yell at you should you grab for the pizza rather than the grilled chicken.
ASK FOR DISMANTLED FOOD
Certain foods you'll find at the dining centers contain healthy components – but they're surrounded by junk that you don't want.
Examples of food with this problem:
- Grilled chicken sandwiches
Spaghetti and meatballs
Since there are always hundreds of kids in the dining center at a time, they obviously can't make all the food beforehand. But you can use this to your benefit!
Simply go up to the employee serving the food and ask them for a partial item.
In all probability, they're required to fulfill requests like this. If not, they usually are nice and give it to you anyway. Use this trick to score stuff like grilled chicken breasts (instead of the whole sandwich) and meatballs (without pasta). You get to eat healthy at the dining center and you don't have to waste food!