Healthy Eating in College Dining Hall

The college dining hall has been the butt of student jokes for at least the past century. Images of little old ladies in hair nets and dirty aprons doling out greasy mounds of unrecognizable food have been featured in many college-life music.

Fortunately for students of today, the truth is that most dorm dining halls are well-run and provide healthful food. However, whatever the quality of your dorm dining room, eating healthy is primarily your own responsibility. Here are some tips that can help you make the right choices.    

1. Know healthy food information: Maybe for the past 18 years or so, you’ve always depending on your mother to provide the most healthful foods. Therefore, if  you don’t yet have sufficient knowledge of calorie counts and other nutrition facts by the time you’re in college, get to know them now. There’s plenty healthy food information in the campus library or online for you to find out when, what and how much you should eat. 

2. Don’t skip breakfast: Before you rush off to your first class, don’t make a quick cup of coffee and doughnut last until lunch time. A healthy breakfast of eggs, cereal, milk and fruit will help you keep alert physically and mentally for hours.

Additionally, too often hunger caused by skipping breakfast can result in drowsiness in class. Worse, doing without adequate breakfast can make you pig out when you get to the dorm dining room. Overeating is the main cause of drowsiness in afternoon classes.

3. Three’s the key: Make sure your dining hall meals include the three main food groups in every meal. Eat a fresh fruit for energy-building natural sugars, non-fat protein meats and fish, and calcium-loaded milk and its products. If you’re a vegan, get your proteins from nut and bean products.

4. If you must have snacks: Go easy on the sweet stuff, such as cakes, cookies and pies. If you need ice cream, make it sorbet. Stay away from the greasy, calorie-loaded fried foods. Baked potatoes taste just as good as fries. When you order pizza, get the light kind with vegetable toppings, instead of cheese and salami. Better still, switch your between-class and midnight snack nibbles to raw vegetables and fruits. 

5. Work it off: As an energetic college student, you can’t expect to go cold turkey by instantly and totally eliminating your high school overeating habits. Make it a gradual process of eating a bit less each day at dorm dining room meals and when you snack.

Of course, you should combine your healthy eating with a daily regimen of exercise. A 15-minute morning run will balance that hearty breakfast. Before you chow down for lunch and dinner, get some regular campus exercise at the gym, athletic field or pool.

When pulling an overnighter to cram for a morning exam, get out of the chair at least once an hour. Do 15 minutes each time for push-ups, squats, stretches and other exercises to keep your body fit and limber. Then, with healthy mind and body, you’ll be sure to ace the exam.   

Eating healthy in your college dining hall is important to your overall well-being. When you balance it with determination to do well with your studies, you create a winning combination that will result in successful completion of your college years.