How to Make the Best Food Choices in Your College Cafeteria
College is not exactly known for providing great healthy food choices for students – quite the opposite, in fact. The “freshman 15” is almost as infamous as frat parties and underage drinking; and it’s not just a stereotype, either. Plenty of students head home from that first semester of college a few – or more than a few – pounds heavier.
So is it a completely lost cause, trying to stay healthy when you go to college? Is there any way to keep off that pesky freshman 15?
The easy answer is: of course it’s possible! The more complicated answer is – well, just like any healthy habit, it takes work.
However, if you follow a few simple tips while enrolled in USC Online or any other undergraduate program, you’ll find it’s easier than you might expect to find healthy food items in your college cafeteria.
Stick to the Salad Bar
Almost every college cafeteria has a salad bar available to its students, and it’s usually all-you-can-eat, and it’s usually well-stocked – due to the fact that nobody really eats from the salad bar. But if you take advantage of this part of the cafe, you’ll find a wealth of nutrients that you probably won’t find if you go out for pizza and beer.
Grab a Piece of Fruit on the Go
College cafeterias don’t always allow to-go boxes unless you have a good reason; but the staff usually stocks a few bowls of grab-and-go items like apples, oranges, and bananas. Take as many of these as you can and squirrel them away in your dorm room for those nights when you are in desperate need of a snack. It’s always better to reach for a banana than a bag of potato chips.
Stick to Whole Grains
Rice, whole wheat flour, couscous, quinoa – all of these are examples of whole grains that are infinitely better for your than processed white flour. Unfortunately, processed white flour is prevalent on college campuses today. However, if you take a good look, you’ll probably notice that there are usually a few whole grain options in your cafeteria. Do your best to stick to those more wholesome choices, and you’ll find yourself with more energy and a fuller belly. Whole grains are packed with fiber and protein which will keep you going through your three-hour lectures.
Okay, so clearly your local grocery store isn’t as convenient as your local campus cafeteria – but there’s something to be said for buying your own fresh and local food every so often. Buy yourself a mini fridge and stock up on fruits, veggies, and “healthy” snack foods or prepackaged dinners. Overall, you’ll still find the campus cafe provides you with your three square meals a day, but it’s always a great idea to have some nutritious go-to items in your room. And if you stock your fridge with juices, apples, oranges, hummus and carrot sticks, peanut butter, or other quick-and-easy snacks, you’ll find that you save money, too. By eating from your fridge or your pantry, you’ll be less likely to call up Dominos on a Sunday night when you’re tired of cafeteria food.