How To

How To Deal with Ernie Dining Hall: A Look Into Healthy College Eating

Hello, October! 'Tis the season of leggings, oversized sweaters, LL Bean slippers (sorry, had to), late night Bird study sessions, and every urge to stay in on a Friday night to only watch re-runs of Grey's Anatomy with a Double-Stuf Oreos box by your side. Ciao to our hard work on our summer bodies, it's time to layer TF up. It's also time to figure out how to get in the routine of healthy college eating to prevent us from getting our seasonal "winter belly". 

We are officially a month into our fall semester which must probably mean our bank accounts filled with all our summer earnings are starting to dwindle down to the last penny. In September, our weekly visits to Rise N Shine Diner, Original Grain and Grubhub take-out runs, (and don't even get me started on Orange Hill), got the best of us. Now, we have to ration the rest of our money as best we can.

What does this mean? Say hello to our beloved dining halls. Ernie Davis Dining Hall is the friend we'll always have no matter what. Ernie is the friend who you hang out with and you never really have an amazing time with him. There may be a couple of forced laughs here in there, thrown in with some awkward small talk. Overall, Ernie loves you more than you love him. He's the "try-hard" of Syracuse dining. 

Whether we like it or not, we have to hold our breaths and hope that we can get through a meal without finding a hair in our food, or tasting egg in our guacamole (it's happened to me).

No fear, Syrafoodies, I'm here to give you a little bit of insight the next time you have to step into Ernie for a quick grab-and-go meal before your next class. Not only are these tricks "healthy college eating" options, but they'll satisfy your G'Uncle taste buds enough to help you last a week (or a couple of days) without spending your way through your weekly spendings. 

Step One: Look for your Source of Protein 

Do you blackout? Do you workout? Are you constantly getting the feeling that you have to take a nap after 10 minutes of studying? Are you a college student? Sorry, are you a human being? I don't care what your excuse is, protein is key in any night out, study session, day of classes, or post-workout meal. Protein is practically essential for college students, and just essential for survival. 

In Ernie, my first step is to find a protein that seems the most appealing to me. A go-to for me is getting grilled chicken. As dry as it tastes in your mouth, once I dip it in salad dressing (balsamic vinaigrette is my fav), it's not so bad! If you're a guaca-freak, ask for some guacamole at the sandwich station and toss it to the side of your plate.

If you're vegetarian, have no fear. Sprinkle some beans over your salad and you're good to go (cover the bad taste up with some dressing). If you have a sweet tooth, grab a non-fat yogurt and top it off with some granola at the cereal station. Not so bad, right?

Step Two: Veg TF Out

And no, I'm not talking about grabbing 3 veggie spring rolls. I'm not even going to try to lecture you about the importance of vegetables in your diet. If your mother didn't lecture you enough or force-feed you with broccoli, then I apologize. Refer to this article, if needed.

The salad bar really isn't that bad (as long as the lettuce doesn't look brown) once you realize the amount of options you have. Take advantage of the selections and fill your plate up with veggies. If you're craving Chipotle, make a spin-off of a bowl and sprinkle diced tomatoes (usually at the stir-fry station or taco station), beans, and chopped grilled chicken into your salad. Go wild.

Step Three: Orange You Glad I Said Fruit 

Try to hit up the fruit station when they replace a fresh tray of strawberries, melon and pineapple. Stock up on vitamins. I'm sorry, do you want to get mumps? Didn't think so. Don't forget bananas too! Bananas are essential for hangover-remedies, hardcore workouts, and pretty much any daily function. If you can't deal with raw fruit, chop some up and throw it in your yogurt. If you're feeling like an overacheiver, take advantage of your friend's Nutribullet and make a smoothie. That smoothie will be one step closer to giving you enough of a sugar boost to last you through the day. 

Step Four: Did Someone Just Say Carbs? 

So carbs really aren't that bad. As long as you don't eat G'Uncle Penne alla Vodka pasta everyday, carbs are important in your diet too. If you're a workout junkie, carbs are essential for your muscles and metabolism. It can be easy to get carried away, but instead of grabbing a bagel, toast up a slice of whole wheat bread. If you're craving pasta, only grab a fistful. 

But enough about my ideas, I decided to ask other students for their input. For example, Amanda Gregorio, a sophomore at Syracuse, has a go-to: whole wheat pita grilled at the sandwich station filled with "spinach, tomatoes, black olives, onions, hummus and feta." Should at least fill our Pita Pit craving till Saturday, right? 

In my eyes, eat every food group in moderation. If you have carbs one day, make sure to add some vegetables in the mix. If you have a bagel one morning because you're hungover and can't deal, make sure to grab some protein later in the day to give yourself some substantial energy. 

Then again after all this healthy college eating, every once in a while, we deserve to treat ourselves (whether that's through 2 DJ buckets or a "well-deserved" Insomnia cookie cake). Right? 

xo, Lilith