eating healthy at your campus dining hall

Posted : September 22, 2014
Last Updated : September 26, 2022

eating healthy at your campus dining hall

Eating healthy during college is especially important because the foods you choose will affect your energy, concentration, and memory. With the plethora of food choices available in your campus dining hall, you may find it difficult to select nutritious options on an everyday basis. Use these suggestions to make healthy choices so you can stay properly fueled and energized during your college years.

Eat three meals a day.

Organize your schedule so you have time to swing by your dining hall for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is the most important meal, as it gives you energy to face the day. Follow up breakfast with a balanced lunch and dinner and eat small snacks between meals. Sticking to this eating schedule will keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day, allowing you to stay alert for your college studies and activities.

Choose soup/salad appetizers.

Eating a soup or salad appetizer before lunch or dinner is a good way to increase your vegetable intake. Doing so will also help fill you up with fiber, making you less likely to overindulge on less nutritious options. To keep the appetizers healthy, choose a vegetable-based soup over a cream-based soup and drizzle your salad with olive oil, lemon juice, or salsa instead of unhealthier salad dressings.

Watch your portion size.

Many campus dining halls arrange their food in a buffet style, making it easy to overeat. The divided plate concept can help you control portion sizes: ½ of plate should be vegetables, ¼ of plate should be protein, and ¼ of plate should be starch. Remember that the appropriate amount of food a person should eat depends on age, gender, and activity level. Speak with a nutritionist about the right balance for you.

Go for variety.

You may have a go-to food in your campus dining hall, but remember that variety is the spice of life. Consuming the same foods every day will quickly become boring and even unhealthy since you need a varied diet to obtain the nutrients needed for optimal health. Try foods that you have never before tasted. Eat lots of different colored fruits and vegetables. Your taste buds will thank you.

Pick the right foods.

You already know that you need to eat from the five basic food groups each day to keep a healthy diet, but you should also pay special attention to how the food is prepared by the dining hall staff.

Choose protein that is grilled, baked, or boiled instead of breaded or fried. Instead of selecting fruit and vegetable sides from the main buffet bar, head over to the salad bar and pick out fresh fruit and veggies. While starches are fine in moderation, try opting for healthier versions occasionally, like sweet potatoes, brown rice, or whole grain bread.

Avoid sugary drinks.

Sodas, sports drinks, and lattes may give you a temporary energy boost to help you study or work out, but these drinks are loaded with sugar which will only make you feel lethargic in the long run. Stay hydrated by choosing healthier options, such as water or unsweet tea.

Treat yourself now and then.

Being a student is challenging, and there will be days that you won't be in the mood to eat healthy - or you may only have time to grab a quick bite on your way to or from activities. Keep in mind that it's good, and even healthy, to indulge on occasion!

Everyone deserves to treat themselves with comfort food now and then, especially during busy studying weeks. By following the 80/20 principle, you will be able to moderate your indulgences. Eighty percent of the time, try to focus on eating somewhat healthy. Twenty percent of the time, enjoy the freedom to indulge as you please.


Don't sweat the small stuff!

At the end of the day, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you should be eating regularly during college and getting the nutrients your body needs. Don't sweat the small stuff - allow yourself to indulge in a dessert here and there, or go back for another helping if the cafeteria is serving your favorite food.

Ultimately, caring for yourself is the most important thing, and as long as you're doing that, you'll be able to enjoy your college experience to the fullest. Keeping these few tips in mind during your dining hall days can help you experience more energy, a clearer mind, and overall better health during your educational journey. USA, LLC

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