Stepping away from hot fries and a Whopper is tough when there are only 20 minutes to spare in between classes and you’re starving. But there are much better options for students who need food fast, want to stay healthy and don’t want to gain the dreaded freshman 15.
The concept of thinking “outside the bun” has never been more prevalent on college campuses where students have everything to choose from now, whether its soft tacos or sushi.
Still, knowing what the best healthy option is can be difficult to figure out at some spots on campus and then even more difficult to stick to.
Just by doing a bit of research online, I was able to uncover important information about what several places on campus have to offer. I recommend taking the time to search the web for the nutritional values of what you’re eating. You’ll be surprised.
Some of the best bets, where healthy is easy to find, are at El Pollo Loco and Subway. Of course this is not to say they don’t have their not-so healthy items too, but overall the variety of good outweighed the bad.
El Pollo Loco has items on its menu that are considered healthy dining options, and are based on some of the U.S. Surgeon General’s daily guidelines for eating. The pollo bowl, for example, has rice, beans and grilled chicken and only has four grams of fat. Tortilla soup and salads on the menu also meet the healthy guidelines. But watch out for the ultimate pollo bowl, which has cheese, sour cream and guacamole adding 22 more grams of fat.
Subway has its low-fat fresh turkey sandwiches that can be mounted with veggies on wheat bread. Those only go as high as seven grams of fat.
Don’t forget about the Marketplace over by Sierra Hall. I was shocked to see Miso soup and teriyaki bowls on the menu. There is even salmon available. The chef will grill it right then and there when you order.
They do have a menu called “fried, tried, and true” which has breaded zucchini and onion rings. This is probably not the way to go unless you feel the need to treat yourself after a long semester of late nights.
I also spotted spicy crab rolls and fresh fruit parfaits with granola at the convenient store on campus. They sit across from the Doritos aisle.
The variety of food for students is impressive, now it’s just about making the decision. That doesn’t mean excluding fast food joints like Burger King and the much too popular Panda Express from one’s diet.
According to Ellen Bauersfeld, a registered dietician at the Klotz Student Health Center, eating healthy is all about choices.
“Almost every location on campus has something relatively healthy for lunch?if you look hard enough,” she said.
Burger King offers a grilled chicken sandwich without mayo.
As for Panda Express, there are steamed rice bowls to take place of the platter of orange chicken and chow mien that has more than 890 calories and 39 grams of fat.
Other dishes have a lower count of fat and calories, such as the mushroom chicken.
Bauersfeld said one of the biggest problems about fast food is the side orders that automatically come with the meal because they lead to a disproportioned meal size and a lot more fat.
She explained that when someone orders that double orange chicken dish with a side of chow mien the “amount of calories is often what a small female needs to eat in a whole day.”
Bauersfeld suggests replacing the heavy side items with a salad or fruit and replacing sodas with water.
My secret is ordering a happy meal if I just can’t go without the side of fries.
It is time to make the change though, as all of these healthy options are waiting. Part from those deep fried potatoes and think about the results. Knowing you are doing one valuable thing for your body feels good at the end of the day.