September is a time for new beginnings, a new school, a transition to university which can often mean living on your own and facing many choices when it comes to food. Sometimes the choices at school cafeterias cater to our cravings for salty, fried foods and sweets, which makes it easy for anyone to gain that dreaded ‘frosh 15’. Stress, exams, cost and lack of time often make it even harder to make healthier choices. Fortunately, many university cafeterias and restaurants are making the effort to make healthier choices with quality ingredients and the calorie labelling is now seen on large chain restaurants, fast food places and prepared foods at some grocery stores.
Small changes in our habits can make it easier to make healthier when our environment is flooded with unhealthy choices. Next time you’re looking for a meal try:
- Looking at all of the choices before committing to putting it on your tray.
- Get your vegetables first and try to fill your plate halfway with vegetables.
- Look for fresh, seasonal fruit to enjoy for dessert
- Use small plates, when we’re hungry, our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs
- Don’t waste money and calories on sugary drinks. Find the water fountain and make water more interesting by adding ice, lemon slices, or a bit of cucumber and mint
- Look for healthier side dishes instead of fries.
- Look for dishes that are grilled or sautéed instead of breaded and fried. A chicken burger isn’t always a healthier choice when it’s covered in breading.
- Read the calorie information. Ask for more nutrition information or find it on the restaurants’ website to really know what you’re getting. Sometimes salad really isn’t a healthier choice.
- Get sauces and dressing on the side, or ask for less sauce
- Give yourself time to eat and enjoy every bite. How many of us remember the taste and flavour of a delicious meal if you ate it studying or walking to class? Better yet, enjoy food with friends and family.
If healthier choices aren’t available to you in your school, make sure you speak up! Better yet, make suggestions of healthier items you would like to see. Cafeteria management want to make choices that you want, after all, that’s what their business is all about.