College Cafeteria Help!
Hi all! I am in college and trying to be healthy and lose weight, but the dining hall can get a little repetitive. I'm trying to be a little more creative with my food choices. ;)
What are some of your favorite healthy dining hall creations? The dining hall at my school always has: a grill, a pizza station, a deli bar, a salad bar, and a hot food station that changes every day.
I have been to many schools with dining halls or cafeterias, I think over the years what helped me is to try to eat healthy: salads, yogurts, fresh fruit, grilled chicken or whatever lean meat is being served, and if I felt like an occasional splurge, I would let myself have it, as long as I didn't go overboard.
Do you have a fridge in your room or can you keep some healthy shelf stable snacks in your room in case you get the munchies or want an alternative to the dining hall? Can you ever go off campus to get a few foods that you would enjoy?
Not all dining hall choices are bad! Even on every station, they'll always have some kind of "mindful" choice.
You can always guarantee that your salad bar and cold sandwich bar will be healthy; that's a given. But explore your options!
Your hot food line is good when you want a good, cooked meal. My undergrad university always had some sort of veggies and most of the time had some sort of lean meat. But of course sometimes they'd have stuff like fried chicken and sloppy joes, but on those days you wouldn't eat on that bar.
Pizza isn't always unhealthy. Stick to plain cheese or something with a lot of veggies. I particularly like hawaiian pizza, which usually is just ham and pinepple and onions which isn't that bad. I don't know about your grill, but ours changed daily and while they always had fries, the entree on the grill wasn't always bad. Sometimes they had turkey burgers, veggie burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches... one time they had a grilled teriyaki chicken and pineapple sandwich that was really good and always one of my favorites!
My dining hall also had what they called an "Expedition bar" where they'd have international cuisine (Asian stirfries, sushi, indian food, etc). Sometimes they'd have specialty nights for this and they'd have a fresh fruit bar or a hummus bar or a breakfast bar...
With such a wide variety of options, you can totally create a good healthy meal. I'd often get a sandwich from the grill, and then go get the veggies from the hot food line. Or I'd get pizza and a salad, or take advantage of the nights where they'd have the fresh fruit and hummus and things like that. Use it to your advantage!
I'm in university as well and healthy eating is just so hard sometimes! Last year I lived in a dorm apartment with a kitchen (lost 20 pounds easy making my own food), but I'm back in the traditional dorms this year. The dining hall scares me because I like to count calories to make sure I'm not going over.
So far I've been eating the soups, salads, steamed veggies, and any kind of lean meat. Thankfully I can use my meal plan card at Subway, Pita Pit, and Tim Hortons so I'm not at a total loss for food options.
Does your university have other food partners where you can use your meal plan at? It's a godsend because all the calorie/nutrition info is online!
Maybe try incorporating choices from the different areas to make your own unique entrees, like grilled chicken on your salad,or some of the lunch meat from the deli bar like a chef salad. I like to put lots of greens in my wraps, sometimes I just make a salad wrap, if you like a little spicy mix salsa with a little ranch dressing.
When I'm traveling and limited in food choices I try to look at vegetarian options for ideas for healthier choices. Broth based soups are good, I've seen guys put their cooked veggies in their soup to bulk it up.
Best of luck to you :sunny:
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