The No-Nonsense Guide to Dieting in College, Made Easy- Part 5: Meal Plans and Making Healthy Choices at the Dining Halls
By: Ari Snaevarsson, Staff Writer
In this section, we will be discussing which meal plan to choose and some guidelines for making healthier choices at each on-campus eatery. This obviously depends on your living situation, but my general suggestion is to get the biggest plan that makes sense financially and logistically.
There is no reason, in my opinion, to rely solely on grocery food, if you do not have to. Buying groceries and cooking in addition to a heavy course load is not always a great idea. Those who disagree and claim they have been able to manage it more than likely are not eating what we would call a healthy or effective diet. This is simply an observation, not a judgment of character.
It probably would not be a bad idea, regardless of your living situation or meal plan, to keep some basic protein, carb, and fat sources in your room. We will talk about this in much more detail once we get to the meat of the article, but for the time being, think about this as “insurance” for days when you are not able to get too many actual meals in.
Here are some ideas for dorm room food choices:
-Whey protein powder
-Canned tuna/chicken breast
-SO many others (carb sources account for the majority of college dorm snacks)
-High EPA/DHA fish oil pills (refer to Rule of Thumb #3)
Now I want to conclude this section by providing a list of healthy options at each on-campus eatery. Keep in mind, the goal is to optimize our diet, not our food choices, and so what follows is a quick list of options that will help ensure you meet the dietary protocols, which will be examined and explained in later articles, that are fundamental for reaching your body composition goals.
The reason for the unorthodox positioning of these guidelines (one might assume this would make more sense after we have discussed what calories, protein, carbohydrates, fats, etc. are and how to manipulate them) is, as I mentioned earlier, that realistically, not everyone is going to read this series in its entirety. Some would argue knowledge of basic calorie and macronutrient manipulation is more important than lists of “healthy options”, but I would rebut this point on the premise that throwing scientific terms at people already intimidated by the idea of dieting is unhelpful at best.
As hugely important as the meat of this article is going to be, sticking to the options I list below and guidelines I mentioned earlier will at least put you on the right track by ensuring you get adequate amounts of protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, etc. In short, it is hard to go wrong with sticking to the guidelines I have given so far, but none of what I have said yet constitutes the nuts and bolts of how to diet in college. Consider me the teacher who has so far only answered your question with an analogy; the actual answer is yet to come (yes, that was an analogy about an analogy).
-Eggs or egg whites from entrée line
-Omelet with veggies if you have time
-Any other sides you want with that
Lunch and Dinner
-Entrée line when lean meats and veggies are offered
-To my knowledge, the Grill serves chicken breasts and mixed veggies for lunch daily
-Small spinach salad (easy with the dressing)
-Sub with lean meats
-Low-fat sauce (BBQ, honey mustard, green pesto, etc.)
-Load it up with veggies (sorry, Bullet workers!)
-Fruit or veggie cup
I personally have never been there, but I have heard great things about the salads, soup, and sushi. Give it a try and let me know if it lives up to the hype!
-So many great options here, as far as smoothies; I highly recommend making trips here part of your repertoire (I live on the complete opposite side of campus and still make a point of coming here at least once every weekday)
These lists are obviously just intended to give you some ideas; I again want to capitalize on the fact that there is nothing special about these foods. You will not lose weight, for example, any faster or more efficiently (to some degree) by choosing a food like oats instead of bagels. I understand this comes as a shocker, but bear with me and I will clarify this point in time.
If you have followed along with each article in this series so far, I would like to take the time to briefly let you know how grateful I am and how beneficial this can be for your health and fitness goals. I say the latter not out of hubris, but as a simple fact. I will readily admit I am far from reaching expertise in this field, but my passion for, along with my humble knowledge and experience in dieting drives every point I make. I would never claim to have all the answers, but I wholeheartedly believe by following along with this guide, you will be taking the most effective and convenient route to changing your body for the better.
By this point, we are almost to the core of this series, where we will walk through how exactly to go about dieting. Before we can get there, though, we have one final article, which will just be a quick rant aimed at getting us in the right mindset before diving headfirst into the hows of dieting in college.