It’s Friday, ladies and gentleman, and this is the second edition of Feature Friday! This week’s post was written by Heather at imperfectatbest, and she wrote about Surviving College on a Mealplan. She’s also got a bit to say about herself:
My name is Heather, I’m a 19-year-old college sophomore. I created my blog with the intention of losing weight I had gained in college. At first I fell into the community of EDs of tumblr and then slowly found my way into the healthy weight loss community. I found a real sense of community and support, learned a lot, got inspired by my fellow bloggers and wanted to learn more about nutrition!
I learned a lot from Google and my nutrition-major roommate and now I try to blog about my life and health. I also use my blog as a sort of exercise and recipe book for me and my followers! I have found lots of friends on Tumblr with similar interests and I just want to help and inspire fellow bloggers to be healthy, like the Tumblr community originally did for me! Everyone deserves to live a happy and healthy life, and now that I’ve realized that, I want others to too!
Heather’s here to talk about how to make healthy choices when you’re in college, living in the dorms, and getting food from the cafeteria.
Welcome to college! Okay, obviously this is Tumblr, not college, but to the new freshmen and upperclassmen who are trying to stay healthy or lose weight while in college, I come bearing some (hopefully useful) tips and ideas on how to brave the dining hall and meal plans!
First: If you have a meal plan don’t fear. Most universities offer a variety of meal plans, and your best bet is to choose the smallest one:
Average meal plans:
- 14 K (14 meals a week)
- 150 meal plan (about 10 meals a week)
- 9K plan (9 meals a week)
- 125 meal plan (about 7-8 a week)
Usually meal plans with less meals have more dining points (or cash). It all depends on the university.
Second: Okay, I have the lowest meal plan but I obviously cannot live on 7/9/10 meals per week. What do I do?
Simple! Many universities offer dining points or some sort of money for food along with their dining plans, use this money at your schools local mini mart (my school has an organic section in the market) to buy food (healthy dinners, snacks, breakfasts etc) to keep in your dorm (a mini fridge and/or microwave becomes really useful). You can probably also use these points/cash at local fast food places or food courts. Now this can be dangerous, but remember everything in moderation and chances are the food courts have a Subway, Panera, sandwich place, sushi bar, salad place, etc. that will have healthy food options for you to eat!
Third, so what do I do with my meals? How do I survive the actual dining hall?
Alright, I know EVERY school is different but let’s start with the basics. Most schools have fresh fruit out whether it’s fruit salad, apples, bananas, pairs, oranges, grapefruit, they have SOMETHING out that you can grab and go
(I like to grab as many as possible and put them in my bag to bring to my room when no one’s looking).Most schools also offer a sandwich bar or salad bar. So head over there first! I always make myself a salad first: spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, quinoa/couscous/croutons, cheese, sprouts, vinegar and oil. If you’re sick of salads, grab hummus or honey mustard from the bar to put on your sandwich instead of mayo. You can ask for whatever you want, don’t be shy to customize a little bit when ordering something, you ARE paying for this. Anyway, if you start with a sandwich or a salad you’ll fill yourself up a bit before you take a second look at the more tempting (and most-likely unhealthier) options.
So you’ve eaten a big healthy meal and are getting pretty full…but still want a little treat. That’s okay! Remember not to restrict yourself from these other options, moderation is key!
You’re eating healthy, not living in hell. Grab a cookie or a brownie, or get a small bowl and get a little bit of ice cream and put fruit on it! Just watch portions. Some schools even have yogurt or granola. My personal favorite dessert is granola, rice milk, and organic peanut butter. Look at your options, cereal can make a great sweet dessert! Or even grab a banana and put peanut butter on it!
Fourth: keep your room stocked with healthy snacks, quick dinners, or breakfasts or whatever for last-minute meals. Having something healthy right in your dorm room will prevent you from getting overly hungry and splurging on a big pizza at the last minute.
I personally keep oatmeal, kashi bars, fruit leathers, fruit, fig bars, yogurt, string cheese, popcorn kernels (to air pop), corn chips, hummus, jello with fruit, and peanut butter. You can either go to a grocery store and buy a few items to keep in your room (again microwave/mini fridge is a must), for snacking on or a healthy breakfast or dinner, especially if you have a smaller meal plan.
Fifth: A great way to stay accountable in the dining hall and make sure you make good choices is to bring a friend with you. At a restaurant, you can split a large-portioned meal, so you won’t feel guilty about wasting food OR cash!
If you and your friend both have similar goals about sticking to healthy stuff, you’ll be much more likely to eat exactly that. You won’t be tempted by her greasy pizza or fries, and you won’t want to get that in front of her, either! Going together with a promise to get healthy stuff makes it a lot easier to stick to when unhealthy food might tempt you!
Lastly, it’s 2 am, I’m drunk, starving, and all I want is pizza/late night/popcorn/chips etc.
Many schools offer a late night, or some kind of pizza delivery that can be paid for with school dining points. Now once in awhile this seems like a great idea and is just fine…so go for it! But try sharing it with a friend, or 2, or the entire floor you live on one! Chances are you aren’t hungry, you’re just tired, under an influence and really want something salty. So keep that in mind while ordering, and indulge a bit but share!
College is supposed to be the time of your life! And I know we’re all trying to eat healthy, and stay fit, or lose weight while there, but remember to relax and have a good time too! Don’t let your weight be your life! Just give yourself a lot of options, have an open mind, relax, study, have fun, make friends and stay healthy.