Illustration by Mary Beger | Art Director

Dining Hall Nutrition

May 27, 2021

How to eat healthy in the dining halls

By Emma Dollenmayer | Asst. The Beat Editor

S ummer always seems to be the perfect time to detox, make some bread, work on one’s mental health and of course, eat better and healthier. Yet, the onset of a new school year can often disrupt one’s finally established routine. For example, classes and coursework may become overwhelming, partying could come across as tempting, especially as an unfamiliar freshman, and the pizza in Nelson Dining Hall might start to look notably better than it probably tastes. However, despite becoming adjusted to a new environment and lifestyle, keeping up with difficult classes and maintaining a social life, eating nutritiously, or at least better than eating chicken nuggets for every meal of the day, is entirely possible.

To preface, any student is able to download the OHIO Culinary Services app to view dining hours and each day’s menu. Additionally, the menu listed for each respective dining hall includes whether or not the items contain eggs, fish, lactose, nuts or soy. The app also lists if an item is gluten-free, halal and kosher friendly, low fat, made with local ingredients and vegan or vegetarian.

Even while living in a dorm, a day consisting of three meals is a healthy one — whether that means your first meal is a protein bar or a big hearty breakfast. That brings us to mention that not all meals need to come from the dining hall. With the flex meal plan and/or Bobcat Cash, one is able to purchase groceries from the local markets, where one can find snack options that can take the place of a dining hall swipe. Some options include fresh fruit, yogurt cups, milk, lots of water, granola bars, deli meat and microwavable lean meals.

Now onto what every health conscious freshman is really wondering…what to actually get at the dining halls? First and foremost, the dining halls are all about moderation. The most enticing peripheral of them is that one can continuously go back for seconds and thirds and fourths. To aid in solving this appeal, limit yourself to one go around, unless of course you are not full, then in that case, listen to your body. One can still be healthy without starving themself. Cutting back portions though, can even mean treating yourself to some of the more junkier, flavorful foods such as a piece of cake for dessert.

For breakfast, the dining halls — specifically Nelson, with its array of morning options — provide foods such as whole grain breads and cereals. Paired with some milk, juice or water alongside a fresh piece of fruit, this is a breakfast made for champions and will be sure to catapult one’s day the correct way. Milk options even include skim, soy and almond. Even better, is an egg white omelette. The station is designed as “create your own,” so anyone is able to fill and spice their dish up with some zesty vegetables such as onions, peppers and mushrooms, with some prolific protein as well. Low fat muffins are available at breakfast too.

Lunch arguably may be a college student’s most important meal. It should be prioritized, undoubtedly. When in-between classes and studying, it is essential to get a solid meal in, especially if breakfast was skipped, to rejuvenate one and get them through the rest of the day. The salad bar is always an adequate option as a dinner side dish, but for lunch, consider making a larger one and topping it with more veggies, which are always fresh and have no butter or margarine added. Furthermore, incorporate a protein such as grilled chicken, which is antibiotic and additive-free, or add a plant-based option like chickpeas. Remember, fat free dressing is always available as well. If one doesn’t have time to eat and savor a whole meal, make the trek to Boyd Market and grab a delicious smoothie to go. The combo deal even includes a baked good and fresh piece of fruit. Talk about deliciousness.

Come dinner time after the day has worn most down and ice cream and fruit loops for dinner are sounding extra tasty... don’t give up. We all love a good burger once and awhile, so if you’re craving one, substitute for one of the dining halls’ garden burgers instead. Same goes for a fire Chinese or Italian meal. At Nelson, one can enjoy Bamboo Bowls, which are fresh, made-to-order stir fry meals. As for pasta, The District on West Green has a noodle station where red, white and meatless sauces are available, plus various kinds of noodles themselves.

For more options and ideas, consider Jefferson Market which is comprised of The Brick City Deli, where “the finest Boar's Head deli meats and cheeses, as well as locally-baked breads” are made to order, The Ohio Cafe, where Peet’s coffee is served, Steeped & Stirred, for hot, steamy tea, Veggie Butcher and Juiced, which is similar to Boyd Market’s freshly squeezed fruit and veggie smoothie bar and lastly,The Culinary Studio where students are able to even learn how to cook their own fresh produce.

AUTHOR: Emma Dollenmayer
EDITOR: Mady Lewellyn
COPY EDITOR: Ashley Beach