How to stay healthy at the dining hall

The dining hall in the University Center is the main source of food for students living on campus. While there are a variety of options, some find it hard to figure out ways to eat healthy and incorporate nutritious value into their meals. Some students on campus get creative with their food ideas, while some stick to the premade hot bar sections of the cafeteria. From the pizza to the meat carving station, the wok station and salad bar, students are able to mix and fill their plates however they desire.

Don’t stick with the premade options

Kiera Alexander/Asst. Photography Editor
Students have different ways to mix up the options in the dining hall, like combining different stations and incorporating fresh ingredients into meals

Lindsey Jordan, a sophomore diplomacy major, said she makes sandwiches, quesadillas and salads all the time because sometimes the options for the pre-made food are “pretty unappetizing.” Jordan drinks soda for her beverage, but she said most of the time the soda machine is out of syrup, so she will resort to water. “If you eat the premade food, it’s hard to find out what’s in it. I’m lactose intolerant so that can be a problem for me,” she said.

Utilize the different stations
Paula Thomson, a sophomore speech pathology and special education major, has the café “down to a science,” she said. Thomson likes to only drink water in the cafeteria, and although the fruity juices and sweet sodas are tempting, she said it is a good way to ensure she has water in her system throughout the day. “My typical café menu is, I check out the soups and see if those are good,” Thomson said. “I then move to the steamed veggies station or salad bar to get my raw veggies, and I also try to eat a fruit with at least one of my meals in the day.” For meats, Thomson heads to the carving station for chicken, or has some eggs or beans for protein. “If I ever make myself salads, I most always use the veggies and toppings in the quesadilla bar because they seem fresher, and if I need meat I use the taco meat from the nacho station,” she said. Thomson mentioned how the feature station is something most people forget about and she eats from there a few times a week.

Use fresh foods to mix up traditional dishes
Bella Sierp, a sophomore nursing major, sticks to the salad and vegan stations in the cafeteria. “I always take fresh foods and staple items from the salad and vegan station,” Sierp said. “I then incorporate it into a traditional meal or a ‘college’ rendition of it. It allows for some form of variety as opposed to the premade food combinations that GDS makes.”

Cook up yummy healthy meals at the wok
Sophie Thon, a sophomore international relations and diplomacy major, likes to get creative with her meal-making. “I always gravitate towards the wok-station,” she said. “I’m a big fan of stir fry, and I incorporate veggies, chicken, and rice for a well balanced meal.” If Thon is in a hurry, she said she makes a “bomb toasted sub sandwich with turkey, cheese and tomato.” She tries to supplement every meal with some sort of vegetable and also drink water, “unless I’m treating myself with a Dr. Pepper,” Thon said. “If I have time, I make a mango smoothie to get nutrition from the fruit and yogurt.”

Christina McDonald-Vitale can be reached at

Author: Christina McDonald-Vitale

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