By Lauren Shaw
For students at this university, finding nutritional variety and healthy options to eat on campus can be a challenge.
“I walk in The Diner and think okay, I can have a grilled cheese, steak and cheese, cheese quesadilla, cheeseburger, cheese pizza, mac and cheese or a wrap, which will have cheese,” said sophomore marketing major Lauren Fagan. “That’s a lot of cheese!”
Since students who live in traditional residence halls and suites are required to use a resident dining plan, many have the same meals available to them day after day. Fagan said she appreciates the changes in the value meals but thinks the dining halls could provide more variety at the other stations as well.
“I think the school makes efforts to try healthy options, but it’s very hard to eat healthy on campus,” Fagan said. “I try my best to try the different meat options, but sometimes it’s hard to find a low-fat, low-calorie meal.”
Senior dietetics major Brittany Cines, a student nutritionist for university Dining Services, suggested some healthier choices for students eating in the dining halls. At the salad bar and Salad Sensations, students can select fresh fruits and vegetables, light dressing options and even add grilled chicken from the sandwich station, Cines said.
Choosing whole-grain pasta with vegetables and marinara sauce is a nutritious option at the pasta line, Cines added. The sandwich station offers multigrain and whole-grain breads and wraps, lean meats such as turkey or grilled chicken, a variety of vegetables and low-calorie spreads such as mustard.
White meat chicken and steamed vegetables from Cluckers and veggie burgers or grilled chicken sandwiches are also available, said Cines.
Students who keep kosher also have the opportunity to eat at Hillel. Sophomore American studies major Riva Bergel has both a dining hall meal plan and a meal plan at Hillel, but says she rarely eats at The Diner because there aren’t many healthy options for students who keep kosher.
“At Hillel, the food is a little better than at The Diner, but not by much,” Bergel said. “There are still a lot of fried and oily options.”
But recent renovations at Hillel have led to better choices, said sophomore communications major Gabby Samad. She said she enjoys the new themed nights with international cuisine.
“I’m loving the food at Hillel right now,” Samad said. “Things have been getting really good there lately.”
And while the dining halls do provide healthy options such as Sprouts at The Diner, Samad said, it’s important to note these options are not always kosher.
Students who have special dietary restrictions can meet with the special dietary advisor board through Dining Services to discuss healthy options on campus, Cines said.
The nutritional information for the food served in the campus dining halls can also be found on the Department of Dining Services website. The website also offers monthly nutrition articles — ranging from how to eat healthy during breaks or when on a budget — as well as links to resources students can use when trying to plan healthier diets.
Fagan, who uses the app MyFitnessPal to count calories, said she uses the nutrition analysis portion of the dining website all the time. The problem, she said, is determining an exact serving size.
“For all I know, one serving they give me is one serving size, or it could be four,” Fagan said. “I have no idea.”
Students should take advantage of nutrition posters throughout the dining halls, online resources and the employees in the nutrition office, Cines said.
Students can also receive diet analysis advising from the Center for Health and Wellbeing in the Eppley Recreation Center.
“While we offer many healthy options, it is really up to the students to make the decisions about what they are going to eat,” Cines said.