Living in on-campus housing means lots of things; new friends, close living quarters, and definitely lots of laughter. But it also comes with questionable bathroom situations, leaky water fountains, and sickness that can spread like wildfire. Perhaps the worst of them all is–you guessed it–the dining halls. Or as some may call them, mess halls. As we all know, they don’t always have the most healthy or appetizing options. As incoming freshman, it is already incredibly hard to eat well, and without the sports and activities from high school, staying healthy can be incredibly challenging. Keeping yourself from gaining those freshman 15 is even harder than it looks. My friends and I have mastered the art of eating in dining halls, so here are some of our best dining hall food tips; refined.
- Water, water, water.
Before taking your daily trip to the dining hall, fill up on water. Drink at least a cup or two. This will give you a full, hydrated feeling so you’re less likely to take seven trips to the buffet. Likewise, make sure you drink water with your meal. I know that the soda machines are tempting, but water will get the job done and save you tons of calories. Pretend like sweetened beverages aren’t even an option.
- One plate, please.
This one can be challenging too. With the hundreds of options at a dining hall, your eyes automatically go to pizza, cake, ice cream, french fries, etc., and you can be tempted to load up with a few plates. Keep in mind that one plate will fill you up and give you enough energy to continue on with your day. Save the sweets and fried foods for another special time, you’ll enjoy them more anyway. Do your best to balance your meal too. Get some protein, dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables–a little bit of everything. This is a great tip if you’re trying to watch what you eat because it gives you a physical limit that you have to stick to. Sticking to balanced, realistic portions is one of the most important goals that you must set for yourself.
- Fresh is best.
Fresh food is tough to come across in dining halls, but when you see it, take advantage of it. As college students, we don’t necessarily get the option to each fresh fruits or vegetables very often. So, when you see some bananas or apples out, grab em while you can.
Keep a mindful eye on what you’re eating at the dining hall, but don’t make it end-all-be-all. Eating in college shouldn’t be stressful. As gross, repetitive, and boring as it may seem, a lot of memories are made at the dining halls. Some of my fondest, most nostalgic memories have happened at the dining hall while I’ve lived here on campus. Don’t make eating healthy stress you out, just simply follow these quick and easy steps to become mindful of what you are putting into your body.