Dinning Hall Pitfalls

Olivia Offner

When you don’t know what you are eating, it is easy for the pounds to pile on. One of the main problems with dining halls is that people don’t know or don’t pay attention to what they are eating. Last week, we talked about foods to avoid at breakfast. The same strategy applies for lunch and dinner. Stay alert when you select your foods and you will look and feel better. Hopefully, you have tried ordering your morning omelet without cheese. If you did, you saved about 200 to 250 calories each day, adding up to a whopping 1400-1750 calories for the week. If you really missed the cheese on your eggs, you now have a chance to cut those calories somewhere else. Americans have a tendency to put dairy on everything, often when it isn’t needed. If you are getting a hamburger or a deli sandwich, ask yourself if you would really miss the cheese if it wasn’t there. If you really like having a turkey and cheese sandwich, go for it, as dairy does have protein and calcium. But if you are just ordering cheese on your sandwich out of habit or because the person in front of you did, you may want to rethink your order. Condiments also add unnecessary fat and calories. Salad dressing and mayonnaise have absolutely no nutritional value and turn an otherwise healthy salad or sandwich into a nutritional nightmare. Next time you find yourself reaching for the ranch or Caesar dressing, try oil and vinegar or low fat vinaigrette instead. On your sandwich, try mustard – which has less than ten calories and no fat per tablespoon – instead of mayonnaise, which has a whopping 90 calories of solid fat per tablespoon. You can also just order your sandwich dry – you might even find that you like it better that way. One of the biggest hazards of all is french fires. Sodexho serves french fries – and pretty good ones at that – at every lunch and every dinner. Plus, you can get them made to order at the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) any time you want. It doesn’t take a nutritionist to figure out that eating french fries several times, or even once a day, can add up to weight gain and skin problems. Don’t try to eliminate french fries from your diet all together; it will probably just backfire during a late night study session at the Coop. Try enjoying them in moderation, once or twice a week. Or, decide that you will only eat french fries at the Coop because they are best there. Set up a limit and make sure you stick to it. Other huge pitfalls at Frank lunch and dinner are pizza and ice cream. While everyone is expected to eat a certain amount of pizza in college, it pays to be picky. If you are going to have pizza, with all its fat and grease, wouldn’t you rather have a delicious piece from Slices than a mediocre piece from Frank? Frank pizza is simply not worth the calories. The ice cream is an obvious pitfall. It really isn’t necessary to eat ice cream after every meal just because it is there. It will still be there next time you come in, so don’t feel like you have to binge ice cream every time you have a meal just to get your money’s worth out of your meal plan. Any all-you-can-eat scenario is going to be bad for your figure, as the concept simply encourages overeating. Frank’s new “we will serve you” feature is also creating problems for some as it makes it harder to limit your portion control. You can get around this by speaking up. Ask for extra vegetables. Your parents have been telling you to eat your vegetables for years, but try them even if they aren’t your favorite. The fiber will fill you up quickly and keep you fuller longer, making you eat far fewer fatty foods. Say you only want a little bit of rice, or ask for one piece of chicken instead of two. And if they do give you too much, you don’t have to eat it just because it’s on your plate. Forcing yourself to eat three times as much pasta as you want really isn’t going to help anyone. The food has already been wasted; you don’t need to waste your waistline too. The key to healthy eating in the dining hall is to pay attention to what you are eating. Watch out for hidden ingredients, control or avoid the use of condiments, stay away from obvious pitfalls and be mindful of portion control. Contrary to popular belief, it is always possible to put together a healthy meal in the dining halls, so stay alert at the buffet line and watch the pounds melt away.