Everyone has heard of the freshman fifteen, but in reality, college students of all years are susceptible to weight gain. While lack of exercise, an abundance of partying and stress all contribute to this problem, one of the biggest reasons for weight gain is the dining hall. Unlimited meal plans may be partially to blame but mostly the cause is from several classic dining hall pitfalls. Frank Dining Hall offers a lot of choices for breakfast. If you haven’t been to breakfast yet, go. They call it the most important meal of the day for a reason. Eating breakfast keeps you more alert during your morning classes and if you eat breakfast you will not be as hungry at lunch and will be less likely to binge on fatty foods and empty carbohydrates. Once you get to breakfast, avoid the pastry section. Eating Danish pastries, scones and muffins first thing in the morning is simply a bad way to start your day. Remember that the word “muffin” was invented to make people feel less guilty about eating cake for breakfast. Muffins, though admittedly delicious, are full of empty calories. No matter how many muffins you eat, if you don’t have something with more substance you will be feeling hungry again within half an hour. If you can’t resist the chocolate chip muffins, try this trick: when you sit down, cut the muffin in half. Put half on your plate and leave the other half on your tray. Then, pour water on the half that you aren’t going to eat-not enough to make a mess, just enough so that you won’t be tempted to eat it when the first half is gone. If you are in a hurry and don’t have time for a leisurely healthy breakfast, try grabbing a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter and an apple or a banana. This breakfast can be eaten on-the-go like a muffin but the protein from the peanut butter and the fiber from the whole grains and the fruit will keep you going much longer. If you can manage to get to breakfast early, eggs are your healthiest choice. While the pancakes, French toast, and sausage might look more appealing, these are no where near as healthy as a good serving of eggs. An average egg has only 70 calories and packs seven grams of protein. Check out the omelet bar, where you can add a serving of vegetables to your eggs. A lot of health conscious people order egg-white omelets but don’t be too quick to cut out the yolk; a whole egg is still a low calorie food and the yolk has a lot of B and A vitamins, iron and riboflavin. So many people order egg-white omelets because they have less fat and cholesterol and then ask for cheese on their omelet. If you are really that worried, skip the cheese. A handful of cheddar cheese adds about 200 calories and a lot of fat and cholesterol to your breakfast. A key to keeping healthy at breakfast is variety. Next time you head for a bagel and cream cheese, remember that this classic combination has over 400 calories, only three or four grams of protein, and hardly any fiber. If you love cream cheese, try putting it on whole grain toast instead of a bagel. Or, opt for an egg sandwich with a single slice of cheese instead of tablespoons of fatty cream cheese. Small changes like this can improve your diet tremendously. Not all the food at the dining hall is bad for you, but it can be difficult to figure out which foods are friendly and which ones will wreak havoc on your waistline. Next time you are in the dining hall, try out these tips and remember: you are what you eat! Check out next week’s issue for advice on how to avoid fat traps at lunch and dinner.