Eating Healthy in Your Dorm Cafeteria

Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog genres. When she’s not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on her Twitter @KateFerg or check out her personal blog

Going off to college means a lot of changes, one of which is the sudden loss of mom (or dad’s) home cooking. For some the freedom is thrilling, and dorm cafeterias are known for offering a wide variety of food choices that you’re not used to seeing every day. Controlling the urge to taste test every morsel in site is going to be key however, as is remembering some simple healthy eating habits which will not only help to prevent weight gain, but will also keep your immune system up, help you sleep better, and reduce your overall stress levels.

Most dorm cafeterias actually have a lot of healthy dining options if you know where to look. You want to aim for a diet that will keep you full with fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats, with as many vitamins and nutrients as possible. This means sticking with foods in their most natural, unprocessed states, and avoiding sweets, artificial flavoring, or anything with added sugars and hydrogenated oils.

Foods in their natural state include fresh fruits and vegetables (but not fruit cups in syrup), oatmeal, whole grains, and brown rice (but not breads that are lacking whole grains), lean meats like chicken breast (but not nitrate filled hot dogs), and healthy fats from avocado, fish, and nuts or nut butters (but not sugar filled peanut butters). A good rule of thumb is to stick with unprocessed foods and avoid fried foods, and the salad bars and carving stations are good places to look for fresher options.

Keep your eye out for substitutions you can make within your meals to use your calories wisely. While frozen yogurt is an obvious sugar bomb, sauces, salad dressings, and flavored yogurt can be more discreet but just as precarious ones. Go for mustards over ketchups and mix your own oil and vinegar instead of going with the standard dressings on hand. Eating healthy does not mean limiting yourself from eating tasty options, it’s simply making smarter choices whenever possible. The cleaner you can eat, the wider variety of nutrients you will obtain and the less inflammation you will experience in the body, making you feel better as a whole.

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