Keep your health in mind with dining choices


The Daily Illini File Photo

Students enter the Ikenberry Dining Center on May 1.

By Ava Traverso, Special Sections editor

The experience of starting a new life at college can conjure a million emotions: excitement, fear, sadness, joy and multitudes of emotion I have not listed. One of the largest things of moving away from home can be the newfound responsibility of living on your own (in a sense).

One of the biggest things to watch for on top of that is keeping track of diet, especially in the dining hall environment. With all you can eat food, a plethora of fried options and tons of desserts, it can be hard to eat healthy with all of the temptations around. Here are some tips and tricks to make sure you avoid the notorious ‘freshman fifteen’ and form healthy eating habits for the rest of your college years.

Don’t spend more time in the dining hall than necessary

Where it can be nice to spend an hour catching up with your new friends over dinner, spending excessive time in the dining hall can be counterproductive. Not only is that time keeping you from doing other things, but the longer you sit, the more tempted you will be to overeat. In my experience, I noticed I tend to eat more unhealthily when I am just sitting in the dining hall longer than I needed to. A better option could be to eat with the group and then move the conversation to a place more conducive for hanging out.

Be mindful of choices

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Where it can be easy to get swept away when it comes to making your own dietary choices without a parent making meals for you, it is still important to practice moderation with portion sizes and picking meals. No, no one is telling you you have to strictly eat salads or vegetables. As with everything in life, diet just requires a balance between the good and the not-so-good. Making active choices to add healthier foods into your diet, as well as the comfort food favorites, can go a long way when having a healthy lifestyle.

Drink more water

I know this line is often beaten like a dead horse. Water is touted as the miracle cure for everything, from clearing your skin, to getting rid of headaches and other woes. This relates to the dining halls with the expansive drink selections offered across campus. From sugary sodas, like Sprite and Coca-Cola, and fruit juices, drinking these every day can lead to the buildup of empty calories.

A better way to avoid this would be to save the other drinks for certain occasions, like one meal a day, and try to stick with water for the rest. Bringing a reusable water bottle around campus is also an excellent way to stay hydrated. That way, you can avoid getting all jittery from the sugar as well.

With these tips, the dining halls can seem less intimidating than they may originally appear. Make sure to make the most of your meal plans as well because freshman year — and readily prepared food — goes by in the blink of an eye.

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