10 Ways to Eat Healthy in the Dining Commons

Most college kids can tell you that the 'freshman 15' isn't a myth - and for some, it's more like a 'freshman 50'. It can be hard to adjust to eating in a cafeteria for every meal, particularly if you're used to healthy foods being available to you at all times at your parents' house. Smart eating in the dining commons can prevent you from getting too unhealthy during college.

By Sarah Wright

how to avoid the freshman 15 healthy eating in college

1. Go Veggie

Some people monitor their cholesterol and fat intake by committing to go meatless at least one day a week. A warning, though: there's plenty of junk food out there that's vegetarian. The idea of going veggie for health is to focus on consuming more whole grains and fresh vegetables.

2. Lean Protein Is Your Friend

Sure, beef is delicious, but lean cuts usually aren't the cheapest, so your school probably isn't serving you the least fatty portions of this particular meat. Instead, try to focus on learner proteins like egg whites, beans, fish and boneless, skinless chicken.

3. Limit Your Consumption of Fried Food

If you're loathe to give up burgers, but want to try to eat more healthfully, try subbing in a salad or a vegetable instead of fries. If there's at least one fried thing on your plate, like chicken strips, don't add another.

4. Avoid Desserts

Dessert is delicious, but it's fat and sugar that makes it so. Best to avoid dessert on a regular basis if you're trying to trim some pounds. Try fresh fruit instead. We know that apple is no substitute for a brownie, but it'll give you something sweet to munch on after your meal.

5. Watch Out for Liquid Calories

Sodas, juices, smoothies and flavored coffees can add a lot of sugar, fat and calories to your daily tally if you're not careful. If you're going to have soda or juice, limit your portion to one small glass.

6. Practice Moderation and Portion Control

It's ok to indulge in a piece of pizza or a cupcake for dessert every once in a while. It's doing it regularly that becomes a problem. And certain things, like cheese or peanut butter, aren't too bad in moderation, so long as you stick to a small portion. Practicing restraint will help you stay healthier overall.

7. Go For Healthier Alternatives

Swapping in healthier alternatives for fatty condiments can help boost your health without drastically altering your diet. If you can put fat-free yogurt on your burrito instead of full-fat sour cream, make the switch. Go for red sauce rather than cheesy alfredos for your pasta. Choose vinaigrette for your salad instead of creamy dressing.

8. Give Yourself Time to Eat

If you've got to grab something portable, you're probably dooming yourself to a less-healthy option than something that has to be consumed in a sitting position. A cheeseburger typically has more fat and calories than a piece of grilled fish with vegetables and rice.

9. Pay Attention to Your Protein to Fat Ratio

This may take a little research, but it's a generally good rule of thumb to make sure that whatever you're eating has more protein than fat. Eating less grease will probably make you feel better, too.

10. Be Open-Minded

If your school offers alternatives that seem a little weird, like fish you've never tried, why not expand your horizons and try something new? You could end up finding something you really like that can become a healthy staple.

Don't neglect your mental health at school!

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