Eating Healthy in TDR | The American Word

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Eating Healthy in TDR

Ashley Franz | 12/7/15 10:30pm
| Updated 12/7/15 10:30pm

Jaclyn Merica /
American Word Magazine

We’ve all experienced that feeling of dread when you’re out of cash and need to use your meal swipes. If I had a nickel for how many times I’ve heard “freshman fifteen” in the past two months, I could probably pay off my tuition. Adjusting to the dining hall diet is tricky with endless baskets of French fries and countless numbers of cookies. However, it’s not all that bad once you learn to navigate the endless lines of food prepared by the dedicated workers, so here are some tips to make the most of your TDR meal, without loading up on fat and grease.

Colors are everything. If you look down at your plate and it’s only one color, you’re missing key nutrients that the dining hall can offer. Roasted seasonal vegetables like squash and zucchini are often offered daily and should make up some of your plate. The dining hall offers dark greens at the salad bar as well, in case you’re finding the day’s vegetable choice too ambitious to stomach. Once you’ve filled your plate with greens, reds, and oranges, balance it with starches and proteins.

Avoid empty calories. You need carbs to fuel all that late night studying, but make sure they aren’t empty calories like white bread or chocolate chip cookies. TDR serves both brown and white rice daily across from the omelet bar, which can make a healthy addition to any salad or chicken entree. Quinoa is offered many nights as well as a great alternative to rice or bread. The black bean quinoa medley combines protein and grains (sometimes with tomatoes) and can help you cover the color rule as well.

Please, please dab. Everyone has those days when they feel the need to eat junk food – it’s scientifically proven. The pizza bar and taco Tuesdays can leave anyone feeling great for a moment, then like an actual slug an hour later. An easy way to avoid this, and save tons of calories and fat in the process, is just to dab off the excess grease with a napkin. It’s not always aesthetically pleasing, but your body will thank you tremendously.

As a general rule of thumb, in order to keep your meals in TDR healthy and satisfying and filling, try to stick to the two-quarters-and-a-half rule. Fill half of your plate with greens, whether that be roasted vegetables or a fresh salad. Mix it up so you don’t get bored with the same salad every day! Then, one quarter of your plate should be protein. The daily fish, chicken, and the beef options are often good choices, but don’t be afraid of the three bean chili now that it’s fall, or an omelet every once in awhile. The last quarter of your plate should be starch; aside from rice or quinoa, there are baked potatoes in the grill section, which are healthy if you bypass the butter and cheese.

Lastly, just stick with water. The soda machines are so tempting, but making that a daily habit with your meal instead of a treat with some meals negates any “healthiness” you may have achieved on your plate. TDR is not the dreaded end to your digestive tract if you’re smart about it. Your body and mind will thank you.