Dine Right in the Dining Halls

Alyssa Simon, Columnist

   Being at school and away from home provides college students with a feeling of independence and responsibility. For many students who are new to SUNY Oneonta this semester, these feelings may be unfamiliar. Students have the ability to choose what to do and when to do it, and no longer have curfews or the need to ask for permission to hang out with a friend. Another newfound freedom that students may not be used to is being able to decide for themselves what and when they would like to eat.

   Students who live on the SUNY Oneonta campus (excluding those who live in Higgins) are required to have the Resident Dining Plan, which provides them with unlimited access to Wilsbach, Mills and Hulbert dining halls. The dining halls provide a plethora of foods to satisfy the diverse tastes, preferences and dietary restrictions of the students.

   If you are looking to eat healthy, the dining hall is the right place to do it. The large variety of limitless options found in the dining halls may be overwhelming at first and it is easy to get caught up in the desire to try everything you see, but if you know what to look for you will succeed with your health goals.

   What makes the dining halls so helpful for healthy eaters is that each hall offers a diverse selection of nutritious items. Wilsbach offers the “Wild Mushroom,” which provides vegetarian and vegan dishes throughout the day. Mills has a wrap station and a wonderful salad bar with many selections, and Hulbert has the “O-Healthy” station complete with a salad bar, a hummus bar and a stir fry station with grains, such as quinoa and amaranth.

   However, eating healthy does not have to just mean salads, wraps and stir fries. In the dining hall, you can choose to eat healthy by reducing your intake of enriched grains (white bread), red meat, fried foods, foods with an abundance of cheese (pizza, pasta dishes), and desserts. You can also choose to eat healthy by increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.

   To help get you started, here are some tips:
• Enjoy a fresh salad topped with a lean protein such as skinless grilled chicken, sliced turkey or a vegetarian source such as garbanzo beans, kidney beans or tofu (healthy hint: swap the ranch dressing for light Italian!)
• Ask for your sandwich on whole wheat bread and pile on fresh veggies such as lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and onion. Also, try pesto instead of mayo!
• Swap out a hamburger for a leaner meat like skinless grilled chicken, a turkey burger or a fiber-filled veggie burger.
• Try an egg white omelet. They are low in cholesterol and high in protein! Fill it with veggies and skip the bacon (and hash browns!)

   Moderation is important for a healthy lifestyle, so don’t let yourself feel deprived. Limit your favorite items to a few times a week and really savor the

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