Most schools offer two types of meal plans. The first is the “all you can eat” Unlimited plan, which allows you to go into the dining hall and eat anything and everything in one sitting. You can go back up for seconds, thirds, and even fourths. Soda is a must have and so are those delicious chocolate chip cookies. The second type of meal plan is the “points” which equal about a dollar per point. This meal plan allows you to go to different places around campus that offer breakfast sandwiches and coffee, or a salad and a drink for lunch. Some schools even have contracts with outside vendors such as Starbucks that allow you to use your meal plan points to buy a coffee on the way to class. And then most often, each plan has some sort of a combination where you can go to dining hall on occasion, or grab a sandwich because you’re late to class. In either case, here are some facts to help you maintain a healthy and balanced diet while on campus your freshman year.
Campus food is already going to be less nutritious and less healthy than food from home. This is simply because the food is bought and prepared in bulk for thousands of students at the same time. It is the best and most efficient way to operate. With this said it is up to you to be aware of this fact. When you go into the dining hall there are going to be set meals that are being prepared and served to grab as you walk through. Generally speaking these meals are going to be less healthy. Your objective is wait until you can get the person behind the counter’s attention. You want to ask them to put something together in a specific way. For example when I was a freshman I would prepare myself a salad from the salad bar. Load it up with everything you want, the more colorful the better! Then, walk over to the grill station and ask the cook to please grill me two chicken breasts with nothing on them. I would tell them it was for a salad and then hand them my salad, which they would then place the chicken on top of. So, instead of eating the fried chicken sandwich that was being prepared on a factory line, I was taking my health into my own hands and making something that was nutritious and quite delicious too.
In the dining hall, or in the to go places, soda is the easiest and probably best to cut out first. Yes it tastes good, but like when you were a kid, save it for a special occasion. Stick to water. I said this in my first Blog, and I will say it again, water is your best friend. On every campus there are places to fill your water bottle making it free. And, as a college student you will quickly learn that the word free is very valuable to you.
The bottom line is that it is very easy to eat unhealthy on a college campus. It will be 2:00am and the late night dining hall is open and you will want to go with your friends and eat everything in sight. And you know what, that is okay every once in a while. The point is that you want to be consciously aware of when you do this and make sure that it is not all the time. You want to avoid foods that are greasy and loaded with carbohydrates. And, you want to go towards foods that are high in protein like chicken breasts and salads with lots of vegetables such as peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, ect.