THE spartan shops
FOOD & NUTRITION BLOG
As a graduate student, I no longer have a meal plan since I cook for myself now. But, thinking about this topic makes me nostalgic and brings me back to my undergraduate days eating at the dining commons. The dining commons environment certainly hasn’t changed over the years- some things are always the same. Like the fact that it is still serving mountains of fries and tator tots, vegetables bathing in cream, at least 10 different types of desserts, and soda around every corner. And with our dining commons, we even have Jamba Juice and Weavers inside the facility! Talk about convenient calories…
If you are a freshman or anyone who is having their first experience eating at an all-you-can-care-to-eat dining facility, the temptation to grab anything delicious in sight is oh so real. And since your parents or whoever used to regulate your diet is not by your immediate side, the freedom of choice can get to your head. Dessert for dinner? Or every meal…? An extra slice of pizza? You bet.
But, patrons eating at the dining commons should be wary. Eating/drinking high calorie, high fat, and high sugar foods can add up fast. As college students, becoming aware and understanding what is good for your health and body is of the utmost importance. You are students after all, who need to maintain your health and feel your best to get maximum performance, right?
Well, I’m here to help you do that! Here are a list of tips you can remember when you’re eating at the dining commons:
1) If there’s nothing green on your plate, we’ve got a problem.
And no, pizza is not a vegetable (and don’t even try to tempt me with the tomato paste argument). Most people load up on starchy foods and forget to eat some healthy greens to increase fiber content and to keep things regular (if you know what I mean). Eating vegetables (and fruit!) are important components of a healthy diet so don’t forget to stock up on your greens. Also, try to pick non-starchy vegetables that are steamed, sauteed, grilled, or roasted instead of fried or creamy.
2) Check out the menu ahead of time
Yes, if you didn’t know already, we post the menus online for your convenience. So you can check out what’s available to eat even before you step foot into the facility. That way, you can plan your meals ahead of time, check allergens, if necessary, and go in with a game plan. Talk about being prepared!
3) But, if you didn’t check the online menu, do a scope of what’s being served first before making a selection
It’s always a wise move to circle around the dining commons first and survey your options. I do that when I eat at buffets and it helps me to figure out the wide array of food and what I want to try and basically what’s available.
4) Your plate shouldn’t look like a mountain (AKA practice proper portion control)
You know what I mean. Your plate shouldn’t look like it’s about to topple over with food every time you put more food on it. If it looks like it’s going to fall off your plate, you’ve gotten too much food, my friend. Time to eat what you have before you get up for seconds. Which brings me to my next point…
5) Try not to get seconds if you haven’t even finished your first
College students are notorious food wasters. I know, because I used to be one. You think something looks good, have one bite, and it tastes disgusting, you throw the whole thing out. Well, that generates a LOT of food waste which has adverse effects on the environment and a whole slew of other things. So ask to try a small sample if you’re not sure if something will taste good or not. Better to throw away a small sample then a whole plate!
6) Head to the salad bar and soup station BEFORE the main course
Fill up on a healthy salad and a non-creamy broth to start your meal before your main entree. Opt for light dressings and vinaigrettes with plenty of vegetables. Add other non-traditional items to your salad like hummus or tofu or nuts and seeds for an extra kick of protein and fiber. If raw vegetables are not your thing, go for cooked vegetables that are not drowned in butter or fried.
7) Look for vegetarian, gluten free, or vegan options
Generally, but not always, are vegetarian, vegan or gluten free items healthy items. Why? Because we eliminate the meat and the wheat and that leaves us with mostly vegetables, ancient grains, and non-fried items. Use your judgement to determine if something looks healthy or not.
8) The One-plate rule
It’s a hard thing to do, but if you’re trying to eat less, try only eating one plate. And make that plate count. Make it balanced with an appropriate amount of healthy protein, fat, and fiber. Limit or eliminate fried, oily, and creamy foods high in calories and fat and add lean meats, healthy whole grains, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
9) Get to know your best friend, water
I know how easy it must be to get soda or other sweetened beverages. But if you’re finding that you’re constantly thirsty and dehydrated, guess what? You haven’t had enough water. Water is your best friend who cares for you and wonders why you haven’t bothered to drink more. Soda and other sugar sweetened beverages wreck havoc on your body and add extra poundage and could be why you haven’t been able to keep the weight off. Water hydrates, helps you feel full, detoxes your system, and so many other things. You’re also made of some percentage of water, so doesn’t it make sense that you need to drink more of what your body is made of? Yep, makes sense to me.
But what if I don’t like the taste of water? It has no flavor…
I hear you, my friend! Drinking a ton of water if you’re used to drinking beverages with lots of flavor can be a difficult challenge. But have you heard of our awesome hydration station? We have infused water that has fruits and other herbs to make water taste delicious. And it’s healthy too! I give you permission to drink all you can care to drink!
10) Skip the screen and eat with friends
It can be tempting to eat in front of the TV screen that's at the DC when you're bored or you have no one to eat with. However, eating in front of a TV means you're no longer concentrated on what's going in your mouth. This means you can easily overeat without knowing it! Try not eating in front of the TV or if you're eating by yourself, pull up a chair with someone else who is sitting alone and ask if you can sit with them! Who knows
1) Food and Nutrition article on Healthy Tips for Eating at the Dining Commons. LINK
Links to pictures from reference site can be found by clicking the picture