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Smart Dining Hall Meal Choices

Healthy eating

You don’t need access to a kitchen and expensive health food stores to make smart meal choices in college. In fact, everything you need can be found in most dining halls and on-campus convenience stores. Putting together healthy meals is just a matter of keeping a few simple tips in mind.

Let these tips guide your food choices:

1) Eat protein at every meal. Protein rich foods fill you up, give you energy, and help keep your hunger in check between meals. Skimping on protein can leave you with headaches and feeling tired or hungry. Chicken, beef, turkey, fish, tofu, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs are all high quality sources of protein.

2) Choose starch or fat. Starchy foods and foods with a higher fat content tend to be more calorie dense, so choosing to eat a larger portion of one or the other can help you monitor your portion size. (We all know how easy it is to load up on food when eating in the dinging hall!) Examples of starchy foods are potatoes, rice, pasta, oatmeal, beans, and bread. Examples of foods with a higher fat content are cheese, nuts, and nut butters.

3) Drink plenty of water. If you’re dehydrated, your body can confuse the cues for hunger and thirst. Staying hydrated will allow you to judge how hungry you are more accurately. Drinking enough water also helps keep your metabolism functioning properly. Carrying a reusable water bottle and flavoring your water with lemon or lime can help make staying hydrated through out the day a little easier.

Here are a few simply meal ideas to get you on the right track:


  • Scrambled eggs and bacon
  • Cottage cheese and fruit


  • Deli meat turkey over a large salad (dressed with oil and vinegar) and an apple
  • Cheeseburger (no bun) with double lettuce, double tomato, and avocado


  • Chicken breast with steamed vegetables and a baked potato
  • Beef and vegetable stir fry over rice
  • Snacks:
    Low sodium beef jerky
  • Greek yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Think Thin high protein bar

Eating in college is all about fueling your body, so that you feel good and have the energy you need to keep up with your busy schedule. Oh, and don’t freak out about sharing a giant plate of nachos with your friends on a Friday night. Moderation is the key to keeping meal time stress free and easy to navigate!

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