For many college students, eating correctly is a struggle — especially if they’re on a school meal plan.
College freshmen gain at least 5 percent of their body weight in their first semester, WebMD reports. That is about 10 pounds on average. The so-called “freshman fifteen” really exists.
Here at Weber State University, the on-campus food service provider is Sodexo. Some students have said that Sodexo food is unappetizing. Others say it does’t offer any healthy choices.
But rather than feeling stuck and defeated, let’s examine some ways to eat well within the system.
Like most college students, I don’t use a kitchen or have unlimited resources, so purchasing high-quality ingredients and preparing my own meals isn’t an option. But I try to think ahead and make healthier choices within the school meal plan.
A lot of the tips I follow come from the nutritionists on one of my favorite shows, “The Biggest Loser.”
I start my mornings with breakfast as soon as I wake up. There is a reason it is considered the most important meal of the day – it sets the tone.
I like to start the day with oatmeal or a smoothie from the Jamba Juice at the south entrance of the Shepherd Union next to Starbucks. I choose oatmeal with bananas, cinnamon and Splenda. I never go for the brown sugar. The staff piles it on, but I get just as good of a flavor with cinnamon and Splenda.
When I’m in a hurry, I pick one of two smoothies: a small “Apples-n-Greens” with almond milk instead of the apple-strawberry juice or a “Banana Berry” with soy milk, both with a scoop of whey protein. They’re packed with antioxidants, protein, vitamins and less sugar than most of the other drinks.
A major key to success I’ve found is snacking throughout the day and drinking plenty of water. I drink a gallon of water a day to keep my body hydrated, and I just feel better throughout the day.
I look for high-protein, low-calorie items like Greek yogurt, dried fruit, granola bars, beef jerky and turkey jerky – all things Sodexo sells in its stores. Having snacks in my room keeps me from being tempted to go get ice cream since I already have healthy alternatives on hand.
For lunch, I am fond of The Asian cuisine at Lotza Luck or the Wildcat Room, both in the Shepherd Union. At Lotza Luck, I’m obsessed with the chicken teriyaki bowl. I order the grilled chicken as a healthier alternative to the fried, orange or beef bowls. There are plenty of spicy toppings to choose from, like cilantro and jalapeños.
The Wildcat Room, tucked in the corner next to Sub Connection, offers a full salad bar, soups, daily entrees and dessert options. I always go for the spinach salad since I don’t like lettuce. Entrees like the omelet station, and their vegetarian options are delicious and healthy. The key is not drenching salad with fattening dressing. Being limited to one portion per item is helpful.
The dorm dining hall opens at 5 p.m. for dinner, and I try to go then – not only because it’s healthier to eat earlier in the day but also because the cafeteria hasn’t run out of dishes as it sometimes does if I go later.
When I don’t eat healthy and I’m not drinking enough water, I feel run down. When I don’t stick to my routine, I get antsy. That’s all the motivation I need to pick well throughout the day.