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Old 11-10-2004, 12:20 AM   #1
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Default Cafeteria dilemma

All the fantastic recipies and ideas for home-cooking are wonderful, but what about college students facing the dreaded cafeteria? I find myself in this situation, where the manager has posted a small chart bearing only the basic general information, like how many calories are in a chicken breast, how many in a salad, etc... Has anyone found or heard of a good way to keep a girl under control so she doesn't splurge in a buffet environment?

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Old 11-10-2004, 01:01 AM   #2
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Gosh, thinking back to my college days, I was so excited to eat whatever I wanted that I did a lot of damage at the college cafeteria. In retrospect, I regret it. (Side note: I remember we had these French fries that came powdered in a bag they mixed with water. They were extruded from a machine and dropped straight into the fat when they pushed a button. Now that I think about it, they were really nasty. But I could pack those away...)

The advice I have is probably what you already know. Stay away from ANYTHING fried or cooked on a griddle like hamburgers, etc. Look for grilled options like chicken (boring, I know, but safe). Avoid creamy dressings, croutons, mayonaisy pasta/potato salads on your salad and load up on fresh veggies. For breakfast, stay away from things like bacon and pancakes and look for fresh fruit, yogurts, high fiber cereals, skim milk, hard boiled eggs or egg whites, oatmeal, etc. For lunch look for low-fat meats like turkey for sandwiches instead of tuna/chicken salad with loads of mayo, wheat bread instead of white, mustard instead of mayo, brothy soups like vegetable instead of creamy ones, and salads. Avoid fatty desserts! Look for Jell-O, fresh fruit, the occasional fat free frozen yogurt (lot of sugar, though, watch out), or popsicles. Also, though it sounds like you are on a cafeteria plan, consider keeping a few emergency things in your room for when you canít find healthy alternatives. Things like those low-fat tuna salad kits with crackers, cans of healthy soups, single serving things like applesauce, instant oatmeal, etc.

Another thing to consider is seeing if your college offers nutritionist consultations in your health clinic. That person may be able to give you other ideas and tips for ways to navigate your specific schoolís cafeteria and make good choices.

I think self control is the main thing. Thatís something I rarely had when facing a smorgasbord of fried yummies just calling out to me. But as someone who is now 10 years out of college I would love to be in your shoes again to make different choices the second time around. Good luck to you! And visit here often for supportóit really helps!
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Old 11-10-2004, 08:28 AM   #3
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do you live in a dorm? if you do, do you have a micro wave or fridge? if you do, do you have access to a grocery store?

there are tons of foods that you can buy and keep in your dorm so that you don't have to set foot in that cafeteria all day. fruits and veggies, yogurt, cottage cheese, granola bars, stuff for sandwhiches, canned soups. oatmeal ect. ect. the more that you can prepare on your own, the less you have to worry about what you eat if you go to the cafeteria for, say, one meal a day instead of three. it'll also save you some money as well, unless you are some kind of meal plan.
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Old 11-10-2004, 11:25 PM   #4
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Thanks a ton for all the fantastic advice, gals I wish I had the $ to stock up on healthy options, but thanks to paying my way, that's not an option at the time being. Still, the school does have a pretty good salad bar and the cereal selections aren't too bad Since it's a small private school, we don't even have a nutritionist on campus, let alone much of a selection in the caf. The "healthy bar" usually consists of veggies drenched in soy sauce or pasta swimming in alfredo sauce and melted cheese.
Once again, thanks!!
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Old 11-21-2004, 08:41 PM   #5
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College was the hardest place to watch what I ate. Actually things in the cafe weren't bad, it was the pizza and wings with friends. One bit of advice (which works now in the corporate cafe) is to request how they make your food. All cafes are struggling to get money from students after meal plans aren't required. At college the cafe was run by Mariott I think, and they had suggestion cards. You could always fill one out or talk to the manager about your concerns, because you aren't alone. If you're thinking the food isn't healthy, so is everyone else who eats there.

The good thing about a cafe is that you can take food from one station to another and create a meal that is right for you. When food is being prepared, make requests. One staple I get at work is the grilled chicken with an onion bbq sauce. I love it, but for some reason when the roll is toasted they add butter to it. I now just ask for a grilled chicken with no butter. The first time I requested it it was as if I had 10 heads, but not anymore.

If you asked them to keep the veggies and the sauce seperate, I'm sure they'd comply.

I dieted on and off in school, even though everyone said I didn't seem to eat a lot, I never really lost weight, and at times went up to as much as 220. (6'5", 173 now). I knew I wouldn't really lose weight until I got out of school and was on my own able to buy what I wanted and work out when I wanted. I hated the "I'll do it later because" attitude that I had, but it was my motivation to stick with working out once I got out of school. Once I did get out, I watched what I ate as best as I could while still being social (going out to eat, etc), and work out daily. It looks like I'll have started this year around 200, and if I can end it at 170, I'd be happy, but it will probably be at 173 (the last pounds won't leave, and I'm probably going to start throwing weights into the mix.)

Good luck!
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