5 Tips for Cuisine in College Campus Cafeterias


Eating in the Cafeteria

Eating Utensils

I cannot stress enough how badly you need to take advantage of cafeterias on campus freshman year. There were a few on the Alabama campus and many of them would have fun deals certain nights of the week. My new freshman friends and I would get together on those nights and spend hours there thoroughly enjoying ourselves and getting to know each other. Our favorite was breakfast for dinner. The tricky part is when you have a student account, you do not know how much you are spending and can end up spending all your “dining dollars” within a month (may or may not be speaking from experience here).

  1. Take advantage of the fresh greens. Get a salad and fill your plate up with greens and a variety of nutrient dense salad toppings. Most school cafeterias have great salad bars similar to Ruby Tuesday's endless, create your own salad bar (aka the best type of food bar). Try to add some fresh vegetables like bell peppers or broccoli to your salad to achieve a high fiber dish. If you want to make a salad your whole meal, get some chicken from the home-cooking station, to add some filling protein on top. Get creative and add some colorful fruit like blueberries and strawberries for some potassium and vitamin C. And remember, you need carbohydrates to help fuel your active lifestyle so consider adding high fiber carbohydrates such as black beans, corn, or roasted sweet potatoes!
  2. Since most of you are living in dorms, walk to the cafeteria (not alone if late at night).  Most of my exercise freshman year was from walking around campus, to and from class. In this case the walk will be more enjoyable because it ends in a delicious meal rather than a boring class.
  3. If you have a sweet tooth, use cafeteria nights as a time to treat yourself! Unless times have changed, it does not cost extra to get a soft serve cone with your meal-- save your fro-yo money for a fun time out!
  4. Make it a game. Try out all the college cafeterias and find which ones best fit your palate. Many provide: Asian, pasta, pizza, home-cooking, and special breakfast nights! For the Asian station, fill your plate up with stir fry vegetables over a bed of rice and a side of chicken. This will provide the most bang for your buck with fiber rich grains, high protein in your chicken, and immune boosting vitamins and minerals in your stir fry veggies. If you are craving pizza, make it fun and add some other vegetable toppings to get creative with adding extra nutrients. And for those special breakfast nights, you have many options for whole grains and protein but as a delicious example: whole grain buttered toast and sausage links with a side of scrambled eggs and bowl of fresh fruit topped with a dollop of calcium rich yogurt! (or for my personal favorite breakfast treat, waffles topped with whipped cream... YUM).
  5. Don't waste your money elsewhere, if you already have money on a food account through the school, don't let it go to waste and eat sushi or delivery every night. I have used this word a few times but take advantage of this-- this money on a food account will not be coming back again!

Therese Bridges


Tip 2: Load Up on Fruits & Vegetables

Did you know that only 1 in 4 Americans consumes the recommended 5-9 daily servings of fruit and vegetables?!

Are you in the small percentage?

By increasing your vegetable and fruit intake you drastically cut your risk for heart disease and diabetes and significantly increase your vitamin and mineral intake which offers TONS of health benefits such as better eyesight, improve skin integrity, health bones, strong immune system, and cancer prevention!!!!!

Supplements are great in a pinch, but with summer here there are LOADS of seasonal fruits and vegetables waiting on you to enjoy!!!   What can you do to increase your fruit and vegetable intake today?

I increased my vegetable intake by making a "Farmer's Market Salad" which included fresh summer corn, okra, peas, arugula, and tomatoes!!!!

To Supplement or Not To Supplement - Part 1

Many clients ask me about supplements and if they are necessary for their health.  Since dietary supplements are such a hot topic and can be controversial, today kick starts a new series titled "The Supplement or Not to Supplement".

Dietary supplements were never intended to be a food substitute or your primary source for vitamins/mineral.  Supplements cannot replicate all the nutrients and nutritional benefits of whole foods, especially produce.  Since supplements can be costly, before reaching for the bottle of supplements, make sure your intake is meeting your needs; this could save your pocketbook a lot of change!  However, if you certain medical conditions or notice that you typically do not meet your daily requirements, you may benefit from taking a daily dietary supplement.

Reach For Whole Foods First!

The human body was created to run off of natural foods.  Our system gets energy from the three macronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and receives protective elements from vitamin/minerals found in fresh produce and whole grains.  When whole foods are consumed, you are combining high quality macronutrients for energy AND micronutrients that highly affect your quality of health.  For example, if an orange is consumed, you get approximately 60+ calories to be converted into energy IN ADDITION TO, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and other nutrients. A vitamin C supplement lacks the additional micronutrients that work together to promote optimal health. Only whole foods provide substances called phytochemicals and antioxidants.  Phytochemicals may help prevent against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure!  Antioxidants slow down the oxidation process that leads to cell and tissue damage.  Whole Foods also give the human body proper amounts of dietary fiber to prevent disease and manage constipation.

Who Needs Supplements?

If you typically eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats/poultry/fish, it is not pertinent that you take a daily dietary supplement.  However, the majority of Americans do not follow a balanced diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables.  In this case, a dietary supplement would be beneficial.  A dietary supplement may be recommended if:

  • Your Daily Intake is Less Than 1,500 Calories a Day.
  • Follow a Diet That Limits the Types of Foods Consumed, Such As Vegan or Vegetarian Diet.
  • A Women of child-bearing age (pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant) or Breast-Feeding.
  • Experience Heavy Bleeding During Menstrual Period or Postmenopausal woman
  • Have a Medical Condition or Surgical Procedure That Affects How Body Absorbs, Uses or Excretes Nutrients (Impaired GI Absorption, Chronic Diarrhea, Food Allergies, Food Intolerance, Disease of the Liver, Gallbladder, Intestines or Pancreas)

Dietary supplements can have side effects or interactions with certain medications so be sure to talk to your doctor or dietitian before taking supplement.

To Supplement or Not to Supplement Part 2 Will Guide You On  How To Choose A Supplement That Best Meets Your Nutritional/Dietary Needs!