How to Eat Healthy at the UCSB Dining Commons

If there’s one thing we would all like to avoid, it’s weight gain in college. However, weight gain is inevitable when there is a ton of delicious food waiting to be devoured. When there are endless options of ice cream, pasta, french fries and burgers lined up to grab, it’s almost impossible for you to resist the temptation. Let’s be honest, the salad bar does not look as great compared to the cookies sitting next to the ice cream cooler. However, there is a way to eat healthier in the dining commons, and here’s how.

1. Only Drink Water and Make It A Habit.

Resist the urge to get soda and any other fountain drink! Instead, always get water, or even opt for tea. We never consider how much unneeded sugar and calories are in just one glass of soda. Water is the best drink to go with your food and it will make you feel a lot better in the long run. Plus, water helps you flush out the toxins in your body, but soda doesn’t.

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2. Start with Salad and Do Not Douse It In Dressing.

Create a go-to salad and eat one before starting on your main course. It really helps with filling you up before overloading on all the other possibly unhealthy foods that are waiting for you. Make sure to go light on the dressing. Normally, the best amount is just one ladle of dressing for a bowl of salad.

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3. Switch Out Your White Rice with Brown Rice

Whenever there is a stir fry or teriyaki bowl, try only asking for the topping and getting brown rice instead. It tastes just the same, except brown rice is a much healthier option in terms of including the fiber you need for your diet.

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4. Eat in Correct Portions

I know, sometimes the portion sizes in dining commons is just too little to be considered a meal. But believe it or not, it is close to the amount you are supposed to receive in one serving. In order to keep track of what you put in your body, there is an extremely helpful website that helps you keep track of your calories and portion sizes. Hold yourself accountable for what you choose to eat through the UCSB NetNutrition page.  

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5. Eat All of the Steamed Vegetables Provided

Try eating vegetables. We know, sometimes, the vegetables are just bland and unappetizing. But, trust us, just try them. Get a small serving everyday, and sample them. You will soon come to realize that they are delicious and are often times very well seasoned! If they are not well seasoned, you can easily add some good ol’ salt and pepper.

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6. Look at the Menu Before You Enter the Dining Commons and Choose the Foods You Want to Eat.

This is one of the things that people neglect. We have the option to see the menu everyday. It is extremely helpful if you create a list of items that you want to eat in your head before you go into the dining commons to eat. This will make you go for select items you really want, rather than picking and choosing as you go, only to realize you have overeaten.

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7. Allow Yourself ONE Guilty Pleasure Item.

Remember, eating healthy doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself once in a while. But do it in moderation. If you eat one unhealthy item, such as pizza, you should compensate for that by eating more fruits and vegetables.

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8. Stick to Fruit and Yogurt Instead of Ice Cream.

Have you ever tried vanilla yogurt with granola to satisfy your sweet tooth? Have you ever tried grabbing a fruit on your way out of the dining common? If not, do it. If you have, make it a goal to do this more often. Ice cream should only be a treat once in a while, not everyday. If you manage to do this for one week, you can then treat yourself to ice cream. Until then, you can try healthier alternatives.

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9. Underestimate the Amount You Normally Eat.

We are all guilty of doing this; we grab too much and often stuff ourselves to the max. A good way to avoid this, is to grab one plate at a time. It will allow you time to digest and also allow you to eat what you can eat. Our body tends to tell us we are full after 20 minutes of eating. This method can allow your body to do that while you are taking your time getting food, or eating one meal at a time. You will be surprised on how little food you need to get full.

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10. Stay away from sugary cereals.

If you plan to eat cereal every meal instead of indulging in the other foods, then make sure you are eating the cereals that are not highly sweetened. Stay away from sugary brands such as Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms. Though cereal may seem like a “healthier” option, sometimes the sugar content outweighs the benefits of eating cereal.

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