College can be scary. People at SLU tell you of the countless all-nighters you have to pull off if you actually want to succeed in chemistry, the terrible food at the dining halls that doesn’t look edible at all, the oh-so-bad hangover you’ll have after your first party, and the infamous “Freshmen 15.” 

What they don’t tell you is that you are the author of your own story. Don’t want to feel sleep deprived but still want to kill a chemistry exam the next day? Start studying ahead of time. Don't want to be disappointed you wasted a swipe at the dining hall? Look up the menu beforehand.

If you want to avoid feeling like you got run over by a truck the next morning, then maybe a cup or two of that pink drink served at frat parties (that nobody knows exactly what’s in it) is enough for you. And don’t wish to gain those potential 15 pounds? Attempt to eat healthy and exercise.

As a Nutrition & Dietetics major, I may be biased towards viewing food as “medicine,” and be slightly obsessed with anything food related. What you put into your body will impact your performance on anything. Considering that (although it is crazy to believe) I have only been in college for a couple months, I have discovered that it is not as scary as people make it seem. However, I am still in the same boat as any freshman struggling to find that perfect balance between health, enjoyment, and learning.

After doing some research with less than 500 calorie meals on campus, I compiled a guide to dining at SLU without sacrificing your caloric intake or depriving your body.

1. Chick-fil-A: Grilled Market Salad (450 calories)

Chick-fil-A offers a variety of ready-to-go salads. They’re filling, fresh, and under 500 calories. Pair it with a Splenda lemonade to complement your meal and you’re good to go.

2. Panda Express: Orange Chicken & Mixed Vegetables Bowl (460 calories)

Yes, Panda does have less than 500 calorie meal options. But, it can be a little bit tricky. It is really tempting to ask for the big serving of fried rice, Orange Chicken, and even a side of crab rangoon. The best option, if you’re trying to consume less calories, is to choose the bowl. Servings are smaller, but you’re saving yourself the aftermath of feeling bloated and yucky all day without having to give up your craving for Chinese food.

3. Greens To Go: Southwest Chicken Salad- Large (400 calories)

salad, lettuce, vegetable, cheese
Lissane Kafie

Greens to Go is the best place if you're looking for something fresh, light, and fast. You can ask for their classic salads or make your own. You can also make your favorite salad into a wrap (Make the salad above a wrap for a total of 540 calories).

#spoontip: Ask for dressing on the side instead of having them spread it all over your salad. That way you can control how much dressing you are consuming. Dip your fork in the dressing instead of pouring it all over your salad to have more control.

4. Billiken Club and Grill: Grilled Veggie & Hummus Wrap (410 calories)

chicken, vegetable, tacos, burrito, fish, rice
Lissane Kafie

If you're body's asking for something more, add a side of sweet potato fries (200 calories), and enjoy their crispy, sweet, yet salty goodness.

5. Saint Louis Bread Co. (Panera): Pick 2 Greek salad + Autumn Squash Soup (430 calories)

Lissane Kafie

Saint Louis Bread Co. has a huge variety of options to choose from. Choose the "pick 2" option and select from their wide menu of salads, sandwiches, soups, and pastas. You can't go wrong with whatever you choose, trust me.

#spoontip: Add a side of bread (180 calories) and dip it in the Autumn Squash Soup. Let's be honest, we've all done it. 

6. Avocado, Egg White, and Spinach Breakfast Power Sandwich (410 calories)

sandwich, cheese, lettuce
Lissane Kafie

Bread Co. also serves breakfast until 10:30 AM on weekdays and 11:00 AM during the weekends. This breakfast sandwich is a great way to kick start your day with protein and whole grains, all under 500 calories. 

7. Subway: 6 in Turkey Multigrain Flatbread (220 calories)

Ever since I discovered that Subway has a multigrain flatbread, I cannot stop choosing it over and over again. Many times the sandwiches consist of mostly bread than anything else, but with the multigrain flatbread, you get the best of both worlds. Fill it up with veggies and you’ll know you made a good choice. 

8. Starbucks: Spinach, Feta & Cage Free Egg White Breakfast Wrap (290 calories)

Starbucks is mostly known for its coffee, of course. However, when you spend hours studying in your nearest Starbucks, you will get hungry. Order something to eat and you just might find that their breakfast items are just what you need at any hour of the day. 

Make the best out of these tips and tricks for eating and dining at Saint Louis University, without depriving your body of all the tastiness of food. Munch your way through these less than 500 calorie meals during your time at SLU and beat the infamous freshmen fifteen.