One of the first things that come to mind when people speak about their freshman year in college is the infamous "freshman 15." While late nights out and impulsive high-calorie Cook Out trips are part of the deal, there are things you can do in order to stay health conscious and eat low-calorie meals.

Being aware of your calorie intake as often as you can will help fight off those dreaded extra 15 pounds and help justify that extra calorie-heavy milkshake you had last weekend (or maybe the last three weekends). I went through and figured out the best low-calorie meal options at the restaurants offered on Elon's campus. 

Freshii

Maggie Brown

Freshii, as the name suggests, is not your typical fast food restaurant. To the contrary, it takes health and healthy eating very seriously. Not long ago, a national magazine even ran an article of 13 meals that dietitians would recommend from Freshii, and there are many more options than that to choose from at Freshii that are smart, healthy, and tasty.

Dietitians suggest aiming for 500 calories, five grams of saturated fat, and less than 800 grams of sodium with a meal, and Freshii cooperates with multiple options fitting (or come close to fitting) that bill.

The Fiesta salad is 302 calories, while the Fiesta wraps run around 592 calories. The Spicy Thai Burritos are 480 calories. Asian vegetable soup is as delicious as it is healthy at 315 calories, and frozen yogurt is a tempting 260 calories.

Keep in mind that the Fiery BBQ, Teriyaki, and Sriracha sauces are very high in sodium. To avoid the high sodium levels, order your meal with olive oil or lemon juice or get your dressings on the side. 

The best advice for finding a low-calorie meal is to choose quinoa or kale instead of noodles and order the Zen Salad with chicken, no wontons, and teriyaki dressing on the side to cut the calorie amount dramatically.

#SpoonTip: If you are interested in other fast food chains that are notorious for being healthy, check this out.

Topios

Maggie Brown

Topios is one of Elon’s beloved pizza eateries. Topios offers hand-tossed pizzas, fresh-baked calzones, salads, and more. When I think of Topios, I think of delicious pizza toppings.

Luckily, a decent amount of them are under 400 calories a slice, allowing the option of a low calorie meal. That includes: black olive pizza, cheese pizza, bruschetta pizza, buffalo chicken pizza, greek chicken pizza, Margherita pizza, onion and peppers pizza, mushroom pizza, pepperoni pizza, roasted vegetables pizza and spinach and tomato pizza.

If you want to splurge, the buffalo chicken Stromboli is 628 calories, and the spinach and roasted vegetable calzone is 681 calories. It’s okay to splurge every now and then. And when you do, the next time you go to Topios you can make up for it by enjoying one of their salads, all of which are under 200 calories.

Biscutville 

Maggie Brown

Close your eyes and think about it. The name alone conjures up images of flakey, butter-drenched doughy biscuits drowning in steaming sausage gravy (aka a dietitian's nightmare). Don’t despair, you don’t have to give up what is perhaps the most celebrated staple of the Southern diet if you just apply a few shrewd ordering suggestions.

If your goal is to eat a full meal and not tilt the caloric scales past 400, you have many options at Biscuitville. A country ham biscuit is 350 calories, a BLT English Muffin Sandwich is 196 calories, a Turkey Sausage Biscuit with Egg and Cheese tops out at 370 calories, and country fries and hash browns weigh in at 280 and 160 calories, respectfully.

Einstein Bros. Bagels

Maggie Brown

The name strikes awe and wonder into the hearts and minds of every freshman college student here at Elon. Einstein's magnificent and brilliant formulas have inspired many a freshman during some of their hungriest moments.

Oh wait, you thought I was talking about that genius guy with weird hair. No, I’m talking about Einstein Bros. Bagels, a bagel shop that carries the great physicist’s name and makes college students smile thinking of their favorite bagel concoctions rather than despair trying to remember what E= MC squared means.

Einstein Bros. Bagels has delicious bagel and topping choices that hover around 400 calories, if you are good enough at math. Here’s a sampling of the bagels and toppings calorie counts.

You don’t have to be a genius to do the math and keep your calories under the speed of light and have a low-calorie meal. But since you are, use your brain and eat wisely. There are so many smart choices, you can’t go wrong. And surely the real Albert Einstein would approve of thoughtful college students eating smart in honor of his famous name.

Qdoba

Maggie Brown

“Mexican food” and “calorie counting” in the same sentence would seem to be a sort of oxymoron, like “jumbo shrimp” or “unbiased opinion.” The famous greasy and fried Mexican food all college freshman know and love would certainly suggest that healthy eating options wouldn’t overlap with our typical late night runs to Taco Bell. But not so fast.

A savvy and selective eater can actually find a healthy and balanced diet that incorporates some of our favorite late night Mexican foods and still have a low calorie meal. Qdoba Mexican Grill is one of my personal favorites and there are many combinations that will both satisfy your craving for Mexican fare without making you feel guilty on the way home.

A taco salad (not a taco bowl) with chicken, black bean and corn salsa, and fajita vegetables is a great option and comes in at a mere 405 calories. If you are set on getting tacos, that can be done too. Tacos with soft flour tortillas, shredded beef, corn salsa, pico de gallo, lettuce, and fajita vegetables are another appealing option and are just 195 calories per taco.

If you can overlook the sodium levels and are going strictly for lower-calorie options, the chicken tortilla soup is an option you’ll never tire of and is only 100 calories. Finally, if you must have a burrito, don’t despair. A naked burrito with grilled chicken, black beans, pico de gallo, corn salsa, guacamole and no rice (brown if it is essential for you to enjoy) is your best bet. 

Chick-fil-A

Maggie Brown

At Chick-fil-A, you can actually eat a smart, low-calorie meal, making it entirely guilt-free if you are selective during your trip. The menu spells out more clearly than most fast-food restaurants the calories for each meal and combo meal. Kudos for that. One of the smartest choices at Chick-Fil-A is the 8-count grilled nuggets (140 calories with no sauce).  

#SpoonTip: If you want to enjoy your meal, I would recommend adding one of their sauces that is under 100 calories. That list includes: Honey Mustard, Honey Roasted BBQ, Sweet and Spicy Sriracha, Smokehouse BBQ, or Zesty Buffalo.

Boar's Head Deli and Sandwiches

Maggie Brown

Boar’s Head Deli isn’t one of my favorite names for a restaurant, but it is certainly one of my favorite places for a great deli sandwich. And great sandwiches don’t have to look like the infamous Dagwood sandwich that appears like an oversized Leaning Tower of Pisa about to collapse on itself. 

Granted, a Boar’s Head sandwich can be high in calories, but it doesn’t have to be if you are smart about the ingredients you use and don’t try to create the infamous Dagwood mega sandwich.

For example, 2 oz of Boar’s head Virginia ham is just 60 calories. Same with their Ovengold turkey. Two ounces of Boar’s head London broil is just 70 calories.

Some of the more astute readers may point out, what about the sodium? Good point (sort of). Although a serving of ham contains 590 milligrams of sodium, Boar’s Head Black Forest Low-Sodium ham contains only 440 milligrams. And although Ovengold Turkey contains 350 milligrams of sodium, Boar's Head No Salt Added Turkey Breast contains just 55.

Now, back to our sandwich. This is not a list of every topping offered, just some of the lowest calorie options. Breads under 150 are Gluten-Free Whole Grain, Garden Veggie Wrap, and the Plain Wrap. The best cheese options are Baby Swiss, Gouda, and Mozzarella. As for the sauces go, if you want to stay under 100 calories, look for Cajun Mayo, Deli Mustard, Honey Mustard Sauce, and Light Mayonnaise.

While calorie counting isn't everything, it can help immensely in leading a healthy lifestyle because it helps you remain aware of what you are putting in your body. This list gives advice on how to stay health conscious while using your meal plan and still having the luxury of enjoying your meals.