Dining halls, oh dining halls. How you keep us well fed with your abundance of disgusting week-old apples and frozen pizza that wilts under a single touch. Nobody ever said you had to enjoy dining hall food, but it can be difficult, especially if you’re looking to get that sweet summer bod before heading back home. Here’s some ways to stay health-conscious as you eat in the dining hall.
1. The Sandwich Station
A lot of dining halls have this sort of system set in place for the exact reason of trying to give you options. Find the place on your campus that allows you to Subway it up and put whatever you want on your sandwich. You can choose your types of meat, veggies, and cling to that motivation to eat healthy based on those choices. Cutting out red meat is no problem when other substitutes are being offered, after all.
2. Cut out that gross pizza
Back in high school, I watched in thinly-veiled horror as one of my compatriots wrung out a piece of pizza until the grease halfway filled a glass. If that doesn’t make you feel sick, then looking at the pizza will. There’s a reason that terrible pizza is compared to cardboard, that flour-y dry cracker holding your tomato sauce definitely isn’t doing wonders for your health.
P.S. Don’t use the excuse that there’s nothing better to eat, having egg and tofu stir-fry is undeniably better for your health. At least the latter option gives you actual protein.
3. Check out the vegetarian options
Are you a vegetarian? You don’t have to be in order to take advantage of their nutritious foods. The more people who claim to be interested in vegetarian food, the more options your university will have to offer. Are the vegetarian options abysmal? Do they claim that a single bland salad station is acceptable for your every meal? Speak up! Not only can you help your friends who don’t eat meat, improving the healthy food options on your campus will always do more good than harm.
4. Stop drinking soda
Your soda machine has root beer and Redbull, we get it, we know. Stop mixing lemonade and sprite just because you can and use that handy dandy water button instead. Caffeine is great and all, and dining hall soda is cheaper than an addiction to Starbucks. It’s still a poor replacement for something to help your health. Just try weaning yourself off that constant flow of soda, your body will thank you for limiting the weekend to a splurge of sodium, sugar, and calories.
5. Check out what your friends do
Not the one who uses the waffle iron like a religious experience, I’m talking about the guy who works out at the gym three times a week and chugs water like it’s his lifeblood. With different routines and stature you’ll be eating differently, but checking out what other people do can expand your options. Maybe you didn’t even realize that the quality of the dining hall chicken faces an exponential increase on Taco Tuesdays. Keep your eyes peeled, someone did.
6. Throw in the towel
Dining hall food is gross. If you’ve accepted that you lack self-control when faced with a wall of stale cookies, then maybe the dining hall life just isn’t for you. Ring up mom, put on that apron, and learn how to cook for real this time. Oil in the pan, cut up chicken breast, and add whatever spices you deem necessary. Your friends will flock to your apartment when they hear that homecooked meals can become a college reality. Just remember to keep a few dining dollars on standby every year so you can have a fast meal by the stadium on game days.