Tips to Eat Healthier in the Dining Hall

The dining hall on any college campus is a beautiful thing. Anything you can imagine with dessert? Sign me up! But, with all those options and all those potential meals, the calories can really start to add up. It’s no wonder how so many students gain the freshman 15.

The dining hall doesn’t have to be your enemy, though. Follow along for some quick tips on staying healthy on a dining hall budget.

1. Scope the area out

Take a second to walk around and see everything that is available. Don’t grab the first thing you see; put some thought into what food seems the most appetizing, so you aren’t left with a full plate of food and an empty stomach later.

2. Grab a salad

The salads bars in dining halls are legendary, well hopefully. Salads are a great way to add nutrients and substance to your meal. You can load it up with all kinds of good veggies, and fill full faster, so you aren’t eating more of some less than healthy food on your plate. Just be careful with the dressing and, if you must have ranch, put it in a separate bowl and dip your fork into it, instead of dousing your salad.

3. Ditch the soda

I know, I know. You just want a little caffeine pick me up and you had milk at breakfast so it really isn’t that bad, is it? It is. Soda is just empty calories that you don’t need, so stay away from it. It really is better if you just cut it out cold turkey. Try some seltzer if you’re looking for something fizzy or fruit-infused water if you can’t stand the thought of plain, old water.

4. Limit desserts

It’s hard when there are always at least two dessert options to choose from. And cookies are so uniquely portable! Those desserts add up fast, though, and you need to be cognizant of just how much dessert you are really eating. Try sitting on the opposite side of the dining hall, so you won’t even be tempted by their delicious presence.  You don’t have to give up all desserts, but certainly don’t make it a habit.

5. Stray off-campus

The dining hall routine can get boring pretty fast. It’s usually this time when students start eating pizza all day, every day. If you feel yourself becoming bored from dining hall food, treat yourself and some friends out to some off-campus food. Try out that downtown pub everyone’s been talking about, or indulge in your favorite ethnic food from back home.

The dining hall is a place of wondrous opportunities, but it doesn’t have to be a place of scary temptation. If you go in with a game plan and keep your appetite in check, you can conquer the dining hall, once and for all.

We want to know dining hall tips! Share with me @ana_berkovich and tag #UChic to share your insight or leave us a comment below.

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