WHERE CAN I EAT HEALTHY? Dietician advises students to ‘mix and match’

James Vaughn

Justin Kelly ate celery sticks, pita chips, a spinach salad and a Pop-tart Nov. 7.

Kelly, who has been a vegetarian for nearly five years, said there are plenty of healthy food options on campus, but more wouldn’t hurt.

“They could alter them every now and then,” he said.

He rarely eats off-campus because he has the Blue Eagle meal plan, which prefers students eat nine meals a week at The Loft.

On campus, his go-to menu items are tomato mozzarella sandwiches from Simply to Go, black bean burgers, spinach salads and the vegetarian soup options at The Loft.

“I have been burnt out a few times,” the freshman social work major said.

Kelly said he steers clear of Burger King.

“They have a veggie burger, fries and a salad,” he said. “Not much there.”

Food and Nutrition Instructor Beth Young considers herself semi-vegetarian because she only eats meat once or twice a week.

She said calories, salt and fat are the “biggies.”

While a healthy salt intake is between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams per day, calories and fat are more individualized.

“Generally, if you try to keep a meal around 400-600 calories, you’re going to be in the ballpark of where you need to be to contain your weight,” Young said. “That’s an appropriate range for a meal.”

As for snacks, 100-200 calories works.

Saturated fats should amount to less than 10 percent of a person’s diet.

For students who eat at the Loft often, Food Services provides assistance, such as links to various nutrition calculators and Mindful by Sodexo, on its Dining Services website.

Students also have the option to ask a dietician for advice. Sodexo employs more than 500 registered dieticians across the United States. They are available to provide nutritional information at the click of a button.

Young said the four dieticians who teach at USI, including herself, are also willing to advise students about healthy eating habits.

“There’s definitely resources available,” she said.

One thing she advises students to do is to think more creatively.

“If you’re on a meal plan and you’re obviously budget conscious, then I think it can get repetitive,” Young said. “Bounce around and combine different options to make things that are more appealing. Take pasta from here and add veggies from over there. Mix and match it a little bit.”

Young recommends students turn off autopilot sometimes when it comes to their food choices.

“In college, I know students are in a controlled environment of what food is available to them,” Young said. “I know they can get burnt out and bored, or they may just be stuck in a rut and not even be looking at some of the other options.”

Mindful by Sodexo provides two weeks worth of menus for restaurants such as The Loft.

“If those who are vegan or vegetarian, or those who are just looking for more calorie-conscious choices, would take advantage of these features and plan ahead a little bit, they could look and say, ‘Okay. Today, these are going to be my three best options.’”

She suggests steering clear of Archie’s Pizzeria.

“That’s a challenging one to find something healthy at,” she said. “You may have the best of intentions, but then you get up there to order, and it’s too easy to fall into old habits. I try to encourage clients to stay away from restaurants that have limited healthy items.”

Young packs her lunch 95 percent of the time.

When she does eat on-campus, it’s either Simply to Go, for convenience, or Cyclone Salads, for customization.

She said cost is the main reason she brings food from home.

“For my schedule, it works best for me to pack my lunch,” Young said. “That’s one thing I do encourage, especially for students that maybe live off-campus and don’t have to rely as heavily on the meal plans – bring some things with them. That way they have some healthy snacks in their bag.”