Are you dreading the Freshman 15? I won’t lie to you. I was a victim of the Freshman-and-Sophmore 25! In fact, it took me all the way to grad school to figure out how to eat properly on campus. Campus cafeterias are full of temptations, from all-you-can-eat buffets to twice-daily desserts. But I learned how to beat them, and you can, too. Here’s a list of tips I wish someone had given me when I started university.
1. Save yourself for the really good desserts
If your cafeteria is anything like mine was, you could eat two desserts a day. That is the path to the Freshman 50! But you don’t want to deprive yourself. What’s a girl to do? I came up with a simple rule for myself: eat only the really good desserts. My college had a dessert night every few months with gourmet pastries. Every few weeks, we had a fancy dinner with luxury cakes. You know what, if I’m getting gourmet desserts every few weeks, I don’t mind missing out on the three-day-old apple strudel on the lunch cart today.
2. C is for coffee (That’s good enough for me)
Getting up for an 8 am class is hard. Sometimes your brain needs a little kick-start. But that doesn’t mean to grab a Venti Frappuccio. If you do, you can down 500 calories before you’re awake to enjoy it! To get your caffeine hit, get a regular coffee, load it with milk and sugar, and it’ll still be less calories than a “coffee drink.” If you want to consume 500 calories in a drink, that’s great. But just remember point #1.
3. The new SS: soup and salad
Here’s a trick I learned from Barbara Rolls’ Volumetrics. If you eat a bowl of soup before your meal, you’ll naturally eat less of the main course. And you can eat a ton of salad, feel full, and not consume too many calories. It’s probably a good idea to eat at least one salad a day, anyway. And if someone else is preparing it, why not! A word of warning, though: stay away from the cream-based soups and go easy on the dressing. Those calories add up!
4. The janitor doesn’t cares if you finish your vegetables (or anything else)
Maybe you’re from a family where Mom wouldn’t let you have dessert if you didn’t finish your veggies. Maybe she used the “children are starving in Africa” line. This may have led you into the bad habit of cleaning your plate, even if you’re full long before that. Now that you’re on your own, no one cares! Certainly not the janitor who’s collecting the plates or emptying the garbage! Eat until you’re full, then stop. And remember, it takes the stomach 20 minutes to send the “I’m full signal” to the brain, so don’t rush for seconds right away.
5. Don’t eat out when you’re eating in
Most cafeterias I know offer some good choices… and some really bad choices. I could have had pizza and burgers twice a day for a year, if I wanted. But I bet you consider those “eating out foods” already. Think about how often you want to eat out and plan accordingly. Sure, grab a burger every now and then, but don’t make it your first pick.
Attention Bond Grrls “of a certain age”:
Okay, maybe you’re now faced with cooking your own meals. Spending hours cooking can be a time drain. But on the other hand, you can control exactly what you put in your body. You’re not subject to the whims of the Olga the cafeteria chef. Everybody can use the tricks above, not just college students. Just make sure that indulgences are special occasions, not everyday events.