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Your go-to lunch spots likely include the campus dining hall, a local café, and maybe a fast-food restaurant. How can you eat conveniently without packing on the pounds, feeling like a slug, forgetting what food actually is, and setting yourself up for health problems?

That’s one of the most common questions students ask us at Student Health 101. We asked three stoic undergrads to subject their favorite meals to the scrutiny of a dietitian. Here’s what happened.

EXPERT: Alan E. Shugarman, registered dietitian, Miami, Florida

Campus dining hall

Wyatt S., recent graduate of College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio

Wyatt’s meal

  • Chili cheese fries

“I made it by layering french fries and bacon from the grill station and onions, green onions, cheese, and sour cream from the salad bar. This is good as a snack or side dish, and the ingredients are always available at the dining hall.”

Nutritionist’s verdict
“This meal is high in saturated fat and carbs. You’re getting a lot of the bad stuff, and not a ton of the good stuff, like fiber or vitamins and minerals.”

How this dish can be nutritionally redeemed
“Replace the deep-fried fries with air-baked fries or brown rice, and take some Greek yogurt in the place of sour cream. Better yet, choose steamed broccoli to replace those greasy french fries.”

Wyatt’s takeaway
“Almost every ingredient here has a healthier alternative, and the expert did a good job trying to transform the dish into something nutritionally sane. However, I believe that it would be too much work to reform chili cheese fries into a smart snacking option. For people interested in eating healthier, I would recommend eating something else.”

CLICK HERE for campus menu

Fast-food restaurant

Doug H., third-year student at The Ohio State University, Columbus

Doug’s meal

  • Value Chicken Sandwich
  • Side of onion rings

“It was one of the best chicken sandwiches I had ever had. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, full of flavor. The Value Chicken Sandwich, perhaps á la carte, likely has become my new regular lunch choice.”

Nutritionist’s verdict
“As a regular lunch choice, fried onion rings, fried chicken breast, and bread is not the best option. This meal has more than half of your recommended daily fat, sodium, and carbohydrate intake. It’s a recipe for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease all in one meal.”

How this meal can be nutritionally redeemed
“Swap out the fried chicken with a grilled lean chicken breast on whole wheat bread. Instead of fried onion rings, opt for some fresh fruit or vegetables.”

Doug’s takeaway
“I’m not surprised. The meal was mainly boiled in grease. At this time, I can’t see myself eliminating fast food from my diet completely, due to personal preferences and convenience. I will continue to order these types of meals, but maybe less frequently. The advice is sound and feasible, though it may be difficult to adjust.”

Café

Hannah T., fourth-year student at the University of Green Bay, Wisconsin

Hannah’s meal

  • Vanilla latte with whole milk
  • Apple bran muffin

“I enjoy this meal typically early in the day, because it isn’t too expensive, it’s easy to carry to class, and it gives me a quick boost of energy.”

Nutritionist’s verdict
“This is a high-fat, high-sugar, and high-caffeine snack that will result in fat deposition and an energy crash.”

How this meal can be nutritionally redeemed
“Go for a non-fat, Stevia-sweetened, vanilla almond milk latte. Skip the muffin altogether. If you must grab and go, choose an apple or banana.”

Hannah’s takeaway
“Next time I’ll make an effort to choose a food option that offers more nutritional support than just sugar and carbs. I would never have thought about substituting almond milk for regular milk, but it’s a great idea. Next time I will make sure to be more intentional about what I order.”

CLICK HERE for café menu

The Art of Change


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..you will apply to everyday life?

..caused you to get involved, ask for help,
utilize campus resources, or help a friend?

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HAVE YOU SEEN AT LEAST ONE THING IN THIS ISSUE THAT...

..you will apply to everyday life?

..caused you to get involved, ask for help,
utilize campus resources, or help a friend?

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How can we get more people to read Student Health 101?

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