College Cafeteria Eating Tips

November 13, 2011

This is a guest post by Taylor Harris.

Being away from home and on your own for the first time is an experience many college students share. The freedom can be intoxicating, and could cause you to make a few mistakes, such as eating pizza or burgers for every meal instead of maintaining a healthy diet. With no one to look out for you but you, these college cafeteria eating tips could help you pick healthier foods.


The key to eating healthy in a cafeteria, or anywhere else for that matter, is self-control. The fact that you’re now responsible for your own actions and don’t have mom and dad looking over your shoulder telling you what not to eat means you must take control of your passion for eating the wrong food. Good intentions will only carry you so far-you need to exercise self-control and bypass the burgers and fries and fill your plate with healthy alternatives, such as fruits and vegetables. That won’t always be easy to do, because although many college and university cafeterias are offering healthy foods at mealtime, they still put out the pizza and hot dogs.

Smaller Portions

Although self-control is necessary in choosing the foods you eat at the college cafeteria, you may not always to strong enough to resist. Eating the type of food that tastes good but isn’t exactly a healthy choice doesn’t mean you could keel over today, but if you give into temptation often enough the effects could add up. If you do give in and enjoy a pizza or burger once in a while, the best thing you can do is limit the size of the portion you take. Eating a slice of pizza may not be exactly what you need to get healthy and stay that way, but it’s not nearly as bad as filling your plate with a half-dozen pieces, plus ice cream for dessert-and if you do have dessert limit your intake to a small amount. Will power is the name of the game.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Simply cutting down on fatty foods isn’t enough if your diet isn’t balanced. You need to eat a variety of foods. Sure, a diet of water and carrot sticks will make you lose weight, but in the end you may be even less healthy than if you stuck to pizza and milk shakes. The reason is that the human body is designed to perform efficiently when fueled properly, and going from one extreme to another won’t make you any healthier than you are now. On a daily basis your body needs the vitamins and minerals contained in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and the type of proteins contained in lean meat, chicken, or fish. If you try and cut out all forms of fatty foods, it would be a mistake because your body needs the types of fats that are found in such foods as peanut butter, nuts, or olive oil. The menu in most cafeterias will allow you to choose healthy foods; all you need to do is pick the right combination to improve your health.

Know What You Need

Stating that you need to eat a balanced diet is all well and good, but do you really know what a balanced diet consists of? In order to make sure you’re eating the right foods, and in the correct amounts, you need to know what foods to choose. A little research before going to the cafeteria will help you know what to load your tray with. If you go online and enter something such as, ‘what does a balanced diet consist of’ into your search engine you’ll be rewarded with a variety of resource articles that will guide you into choosing the right types of foods. The basics are fruits, vegetables, grain, dairy products, proteins, and oils. Knowing the right kind of food to eat is important, but you also need to know what quantity of each category will enrich your diet and help you to get healthy and stay that way.

Know What You Want

Knowing what you want to eat before entering the cafeteria can also be helpful. Since you’ve gone to all the trouble of finding out which foods are good for you it would defeat the purpose to walk into the cafeteria and be enticed by an array of good-looking morsels that aren’t healthy. If you decide beforehand what you’re going to have, it will be easier to resist the temptation and stick to a healthy diet.

Remember, at college there is no one to look out for you but you, so use these college cafeteria eating tips to help you pick healthier foods.

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