Dining halls can be dangerous. They’re chock full of unhealthy carbohydrates and sugary treats and ultimately, calories and fats. So, it wasn’t a surprise that after 19 meals a week for two and a half months I had already gained a third of my “freshman fifteen.” So, I made the decision to embark on the Whole30, a program I had completed many times at home, but never in a college environment. The Whole30 is a nutrition reset diet created by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig in 2009. The rules remove added sugar (real or artificial), alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites from your diet. It has many health benefits, but, I know, sounds impossible, right? It can be hard, especially with all the tasty temptations at college, but it is possible, even in a dining hall! Here’s how I survived Whole30 on a meal plan…


Breakfast is usually pretty simple. Omelettes, which can be made-to-order in the mornings are my go-to, and they’re a good way to get lots of protein before your dreaded 8am class. Add some substance to your omelette through greens like spinach, broccoli, or peppers, and add some sausage for a little extra protein. Then, grab some fruit to fill the rest of the plate.


Most days I have class during lunch, so I’ll grab some hard boiled eggs from the fridge at Marketplace for a quick snack. If you do have time for a bigger lunch, you can't go wrong with a salad with protein, oil, and vinegar.


Dinner is where you have the most choice as far as the dining hall goes. Simple Servings (usually) serves compliant proteins, which can often be very good. The cooked vegetables are sometimes compliant, but make sure to check the allergen warnings for soy and dairy, and if they aren’t an option, the raw vegetables will work just as well. As far as potatoes go, stay away from mashed, because they usually contain dairy products to thicken them, but when the dining hall offers red potatoes, most often in the form of wedges, then feel free to partake (within reason). The vegan section usually has whole sweet potatoes as well. Or, if you’re in the mood, try a salad. My favorite? A piece of grilled chicken from the grill on lettuce with shredded carrots, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, and sunflower seeds, drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar. Yum!


Sunbutter! Yes, that weird substance over by the vegan food at Sadler is actually sunbutter, and it’s totally approved in small doses. So, cut up an apple or a banana and grab a tablespoon of sunbutter for a sweet treat before you leave the dining hall.


Coffee consumption. This was a hard one for me. On Whole30, one cup of black coffee per day is allowed. Yes, you heard me correctly, one cup. So, plan accordingly. If you have a late night study session, wait until dinner to grab yours. No creamer or sugar allowed. (I know, it sucks, but it's cheaper that way anyway!)


RX bars. I’m a huge sucker for these, mostly because they’re quick to eat between classes. Read the labels to make sure that these are Whole30 compliant, but my favorites are Chocolate Sea Salt (the chocolate is 100% cacao, and therefore, approved!) and Blueberry RX bars. Or, try apple pie and blueberry Lara Bars. The Student Exchange in the Sadler Center accepts flex (and express) dollars!

Nuts. Nuts are allowed on the program, in certain amounts and unsalted. (No peanuts! Those are legumes.) A handful of nuts at night is a nice way to get through the last few hours of studying before bedtime, or as a quick snack between classes.

Yes, Whole30 is difficult, especially when most of your food comes from a dining hall, but it is possible! If you want to try your own Whole30 at school, give it a try - you might surprise yourself.