While a campus dining hall can be a joyous social hub for the entire college, it can also lead some students down an unhealthy path, resulting in the freshman 15. A buffet can be a difficult place to practice good self control. Overeating can be one of the hardest habits to beat in college. Fortunately, many colleges across the country are making serious changes in their dining hall’s food variety, but it can still be difficult to keep good eating habits, so I’ve discovered a few tips that can make a huge difference.
1. At the dining hall, suggest you and your friends sit at a table further from the buffet, so you don’t end up picking up more when you really aren’t hungry anymore.
2. You are not an animal, you are at a public eating place. While it may be a busy, crowded dining hall, you can still practice the manners your mama taught you. When you pick your table and put your bags down, try setting the table with your friends. Yes, that means clearing the table, placing your napkin on the right and setting your utensils (knife blade facing in). I know that sounds silly, but you would be surprised that when you treat your eating experience with more respect that just a mess hall, you will appreciate your food more, savor it, and feel less inclined to over eat. Treat the dining hall like a restaurant, not a watering hole.
2. If your dining hall has different sized plates, like mine, go for the smaller one. You’ll notice that when you have a fuller, small plate, you feel more satisfied than if you had a less full, larger plate.
3. Limit yourself before you start eating. Make your rounds and check out the selection of the day before you pick up a plate. Decide on one, balanced meal, with a common theme. Don’t feel the need to try a bit of everything, because it will be there again, trust me. That means ONE plate of food, with at least one veggie, and protein. When you start piling on a bunch of items, you will end up overeating, or wasting food.
4. Eat with friends!!! Talking to friends while you are enjoying your meal will help you eat slower. You’ll notice that if you eat slower, you will feel more satisfied by the end of your meal. Don’t rush, the dining hall is open for hours. Eating slower also helps your digestion process, so you won’t feel sickly full when leaving the dining hall. You have a meal plan, you don’t need to stuff your face, colleges rarely run out of food.
5. Going to the dining hall starving can be a dangerous situation. Just because you are at a college dining hall does not mean you have to be uncivilized. If you are coming to the dining hall completely famished after a long day of classes, get classy, and go for some smart course making. Start with a bowl of soup or a small salad. Get your starter and sit down and enjoy. Don’t get your meal at the same time you are picking out your starter. Take your time, sit down, enjoy your first course, and you will be less likely to over eat at that meal time.
6. Dessert at dining halls can be tough, but there are tricks to help you control that sweet tooth. For me, I felt that most meals I ate at the dining hall were unsatisfying, so I developed a dangerous sweet tooth where I needed something sweet after every meal in order to feel like I was done. So instead of going for the soft serve machine, try a bowl of mixed fruit with peanut butter. A small bowl of cereal can also do the trick. On those cold winter days, I would also do a hot tea with honey and cinnamon, which surprisingly always satisfied my sweet tooth. Try to limit your desserts from the “danger case” or the soft serve machine to twice a week.
7. Finally, DON’T WASTE FOOD. Take only what you are going to eat, you can always go back for more, but you cannot return it. Even though you are not buying the ingredients, you need to stay conscious of what goes into preparing your food, including the people who are preparing it, and the environmental impact. Talk to the people who work in your dining hall, and always say “please” and “thank you”.