How to Stay Healthy on a College Meal Plan

college meal plan

Dining halls can be overwhelming at first. All around you is tons and tons of food from all the vegetables to everything fried. Be your healthiest you this semester with these college meal plan tips and tricks.

The Magic Salad Bar

Every university dining hall has a salad bar, which is the perfect opportunity to get in some nutrition.

Before you go to any of the other stations in the dining hall, fill up your plate at the salad bar. This is a super easy way to get in more nutrients.

Plus, the salad bars host a much greater variety of fruits and veggies that you’d normally eat. It can be exciting to try out new things or re-acquaint yourself with some old favorites!

Macros, Macros, Macros

The key to staying satisfied regardless of the type of diet you adhere to is to include each of the three macronutrients at each meal, plus veggies.

The three macros are carbs, fats, and protein. This is such an easy way to ensure you have a balanced plate that will power you through whatever the rest of the day has in hold for you.

An example of a macronutrient-balanced meal would be: a salad with beans, quinoa, avocado, and an assortment of vegetables. Easy peasy!

Sneaky Leftovers

Most dining halls don’t allow you to take food out, but we all know the we do it anyway.

If your dining hall has produce out, grab some to take for later. Or, if you can be super sneaky, bring a Tupperware with you.

Pack some vegetables, greens, and other fruits for snacks later on. This will give you healthy options throughout the day while also saving you money in the long term.

Pay Attention to Preparation

Dining halls provide all types of food prepared all different ways. However, some types of preparation are miles healthier than others.

Chances are, the dining hall doesn’t utilize the healthy kinds of oil such as coconut or olive. They most likely use canola oil which isn’t too great for your body.

Try mainly eating steamed or baked foods, utilizing the least amount of oil.

Avoid fried, broiled, and especially sautéed foods if you can.

Mindful Portions

Self-serve options are your best bet in the dining hall. Most of the stations where employees serve you will give you way too much of the carb and far too little of the vegetables.

Focus on the areas where you can serve yourself and give you the appropriate portion size for your self.

If you aren’t provided self-serve stations then just try and be specific with how much and what you want with the employee serving you.

Reset the Scarcity Mindset

Having constant access to so many types of foods is overwhelming at first.

You probably are thinking you have to eat the mac and cheese or ice cream sandwiches because the dining hall will never have them again and this is your only chance.

Dining halls have a food schedule where they cycle the same meals over and over again over a certain period of time. Therefore, this isn’t the last time you’ll see ice cream sandwiches again, I promise.

Additionally, never feel obligated to eat a certain amount or food just because you put it on your plate or it was served to you. There’s no shame in stopping when you’re full.

Cover image via Sodexo Dining

Also published on Medium.