How to Eat Healthy in the Dining Centers

Post written by SU Student, Megan Taylor:

Graham Dining Hall Interior Students Eating
Graham Dining Hall Interior Students Eating

Do you ever find yourself walking into one of the dining centers on campus and grabbing the first and most appetizing thing you see? I think we can all admit that when the first thing we see after a long day of classes is the pizza, pasta and bread sticks; its hard not to want to grab it and be done. However, there are several other healthier options that are always available in every dining center on campus. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing your meal:
Going meatless or choosing leaner meats is always an option. If the meat option doesn’t appeal to you, grab some grilled chicken. Make it more flavorful by spreading some avocado on it, or adding dressing from the salad bar!  Don’t forget meatless options too, like beans, tofu, seitan and tempeh.
Steamed veggies are available anytime. You can get a plate of vegetables as you would for making omelets or stir fry, then ask a staff member at the Jump station to steam them for you. This makes veggies much tastier than just a plate of raw vegetables and you can add them to other dishes such as rice or plain pasta! You can make them even tastier by adding some spices that are available in the dining center.

If you don’t feel like eating the main entrees, try a sandwich. It’s a healthy alternative to other meals when you add veggies and go light on the dressing. Make it even better for you by choosing a whole grain option for your bread like whole wheat bread, wrap, or pita. You can also get foods you would like in your sandwich from the salad bar, or elsewhere in the dining center and give it to the employee making your sandwich. Try: Getting sundried tomatoes from the salad bar to make a great turkey with sundried tomato sandwich; or falafel (from vegan/vegetarian) and cucumbers for a wrap.



Daily salads are delicious. Check near the salad bar for these dishes. Many include whole grains, rice, raisins, veggies, lightly sauced broccoli with almonds, or pasta salad. These are healthy alternatives to grabbing a huge plate of mashed potatoes or French fries.  Keep your salad interesting. Try spicing it up with dried fruits, nuts, strawberries, pears, cottage cheese, edamame, tofu or grilled chicken. You can also ask for some deli meat at the deli to use in your salad. Utilize the many dressings and different kinds of lettuce offered to make your salad tasty and more filling.
DSC_0310The vegan/vegetarian section of the dining halls isn’t just veggie burgers. In fact, there are usually really good options there that include tofu with various sauces, rice, beans, and vegetables dishes. Don’t be afraid to venture into the vegan/vegetarian section and try some new foods. You may be surprised at how good it is!
Remember that there is always a way to make your meal healthier. You just have to stop and look around for the healthier options instead of grabbing the first appetizing meal you see!




SUFS_MeganTaylorMegan Taylor is a junior psychology major with a minor in public health. She is a huge advocate for healthy eating, and wants her fellow peers to know that it is not impossible to maintain a healthy diet when eating at the dining hall. Healthy eating is something you have to value and work on, and it does not mean cutting it everything you love. Being mindful of the foods you eat daily and substituting with healthier options is a great way to start living a healthier lifestyle.