Nutrition Articles

Healthy Dining in the Dorms

20 Tips to Eat Healthier on Campus

595SHARES
Practice Portion Control
When faced with a buffet-style dining hall full of food options, it can be difficult not to overdo it. Become familiar with what recommended portion sizes really look like and make sure you have a solid understanding of basic nutrition guidelines. Here's what SparkPeople members had to say:
  • "In addition to picking healthier food, another way to not eat as much at the all-you-can-eat dining halls is to not use a tray. When you have a tray to put your food on it's easier to load it up and grab more food than you need. Without using one, you can't carry as much food so you're not going to have the temptation to overeat." – BRAVESPENGUIN
     
  • "I just avoided the hot food lines most of the time. Stick to salads, soups, sandwiches and cereal. Since you make them yourself, you'll have more control and mindfulness of how much you're making and what's in it, and ultimately how much you consume." – ELEANORRIGBY13
     
  • "I brought in a couple measuring cups and measured out the serving sizes of the foods I ate most often, putting them on a plate or in a glass. I know that eyeballing portions is a dangerous game, but having even a marginally improved concept of portion sizes when using the dining halls' plates and cups helped me know around how many calories I was eating when I served myself." – ECDAVENPORT
     
  • "Most campus dining services have a website that you can visit and look at nutrition information for the meals they prepare. It isn't always perfect because you have to eyeball the serving size. (Or be like me and bring your food scale with you)."– REYNINGSUNSHINE Continued ›
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Member Comments

  • Great info. Great advice. - 9/5/2013 8:22:16 PM
  • Great tips for all of us--thank you! - 12/2/2012 7:21:09 AM
  • our college dining hall had one main dish, canned veggies, a side, a salad bar and some kind of dessert. i craved fruit sooo much during college... - 6/4/2012 3:56:01 PM
  • AGABR003
    The biggest problem with our dining hall was the selection and preparation. There was usually only one vegetarian option (that almost always had cheese), and the entire salad bar was pre-packaged and never looked fresh. Maybe three options of fresh fruit.

    Compare those choices to a nacho/taco bar, dessert, "fried" station (burgers, fries, hot dogs, etc), pasta and garlic bread (almost always with heavy sauces, NEVER whole wheat pasta), pizza, stir fry (no low-sodium soy sauce here), and assemble your own sandwich (which very rarely had whole wheat bread). All of these were separate stations and all of the vegetarian/salad/
    fruit options were packed into the same station.

    A friend of mine had a gluten and cheese allergy (amongst several other food allergies) and the ONLY thing she could eat was either stir fry or the salad/fruit. The lack of choices (healthy or otherwise) were just appalling and definitely caused me to cain weight during the two years that I was living in the dorms on the meal plan, which at my school was only buffet style. - 6/12/2011 8:35:47 AM
  • I didn't get to eat a lot when I was going to school. I couldn't afford to buy much of anything in the dining room. I had to quit school, it's just too hard to study when you're not eating enough. - 12/12/2010 4:56:49 PM
  • My school doesn't have a buffet option; instead, it's per-item, and all heinously expensive for such low-quality stuff. The problem is the low quality. The cheapest items are the worst for you, the salad bar is stocked with half-rotted fruits and vegetables, the vegan food isn't actually vegan, and almost everything is covered in cheeses or cream sauces in an attempt to disguise how poorly made it is. Gr. Sorry to vent, but not only has the food here added 20 pounds to my body over two years, it's also made me sick - I've had unending stomach problems on the Hofstra diet, and I'm frustrated that even though there's a student club protesting the dining service, they still renewed the contract with a bad company this year. Lackmann sucks! - 2/20/2010 12:19:26 PM
  • I ate all I could eat in the dining halls and our dorms didn't have kitchens so I either ate a lot at the dining halls or ate out late at night (pizza, thai, chinese, indian, etc.). I lost 20 lbs junior year by going vegetarian, eating fresh fruits and vegetables and being creative. I also asked for cheese less pizza, more salad bar options and pita bread + hummus from our dining hall manager. - 11/10/2009 9:13:34 PM
  • It was SO hard for me to try and eat well while on the meal plan. I gained about 30 lbs during freshman/ sophmore years, and I really never ate any of the fries, hamburgers, etc... it was the unlimited and social aspects that really killed me. I finally BEGGED (literally, I went to one of the deans and begged) to be let off the buffet-only meal plan - my argument was that forcing an overweight person to eat in a buffet everyday was like forcing a heroin addict to be in a room full of free heroin and telling them not to touch it... it was ridiculous. After stopping the meal plan I lost 40 lbs by the end of the summer!!! - 4/15/2009 4:15:03 PM
  • Buffet style is a killer. I generally follow all of these suggestions on most days. Its just too bad that my school doesn't offer a great variety of whole wheat options, and the vegetables always look gross. I just feel like since I pay so much money to live and eat on campus, I shouldn't have to buy my own breakfasts and fruits and veggies.
    What a bummer. - 2/3/2009 11:57:50 PM
  • MISSINDIA
    how I wish I had read this article 2 years back.. i gained nearly 8-10 kgs (1 kg = 2.2 pounds) during my MBA. Working really hard to knock them off and get into shape. I must confess I thoroughly enjoyed those 2 years of my life.. including the food :) - 1/5/2009 10:12:07 PM
  • I wish I had followed these pointers when I first when to college a few years ago! :) - 11/18/2008 9:58:53 AM
  • It is a good idea to have some basic rules to remember. There are so many things to remember in school. A good article.
    - 9/20/2008 9:33:48 AM
  • I agree with the first comment, but it's nice to see a shout-out to the college students. - 9/16/2008 10:11:44 PM
  • EADAVENP
    This is a great, basic article. A lot of times there is stuff you already know (duh, fries are not as good for you as spinach) but you need to see it all written out to make it click. I just sent this to my brother (who is the biggest sloth on the planet) because he is already gaining weight after a month at school and I don't want to see him in the position I was in by the end of my freshman year (up 30 lbs) - 9/16/2008 2:58:12 PM

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