Freshman 15. It's what everyone talks about (and every student worries about) when the topics of college and campus living arise. I told myself that it wouldn’t happen to me. But it did a little. In high school, I played sports year-round, so I ate more to compensate for all of the calories I was burning on the soccer field and basketball court. When I got to college, the extent of my exercise was walking around campus and the occasional visit to the rec center. There was the problem: I was still eating more calories (thanks to all-you-can-eat dining halls), but I wasn't as active. I knew I'd have to eat less or exercise more if I was to stop the weight gain in its tracks.|
This year I’ve taken a different approach. Instead of eating whatever I want, I’ve been choosing more fruit and vegetables (which are healthy, filling and low in calories) and simply eating bit less in general. So here are 15 dining hall tips that work for me. They can help you prevent those unwanted pounds from creeping up, too, especially when you establish good eating habits right from the beginning of your school year.
1. Eat breakfast. It will give you energy and rev metabolism first thing in the morning. In the dining hall, try to skip the pancakes, doughnuts, sausage, bacon and Belgian waffles. Choose a whole wheat bagel with low-fat cream cheese, scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast, or whole grain cereal with low-fat milk. Add some fresh fruit to round out your meal and you're set!
2. Take advantage of the salad bar. Often times, salad bars have a variety fresh fruits and vegetables, so you can mix it up every time you get a salad. But watch out for salad bar traps.
3. Don't forget the protein. It's filling and good for you, so include it at every meal. Add some grilled chicken to turn a boring salad into a full meal. Other lean protein choices include deli meats (especially chicken or turkey), tofu, tempeh, eggs and egg whites.
4. Use low-fat dressing. It will save calories overall, but unlike fat-free dressings, it will provide some fat, which you need in order to absorb certain vitamins. Get a handy comparison chart of dressings here!
5. Instead of ladling dressing onto your plate, for example, put it in a small cup and dip your fork into it to save calories and fat.