Eating clean in college is never easy. And when you’re presented with the same options for months on end, eating can actually become boring.

But Healthy Hacks at the University of Maryland is putting an end to this monotony.

University of Maryland’s Student Government Health and Wellness Director and sophomore public health science major Rohini (Ro) Nambiar came up with the idea in October of 2016 to create infographics that would educate students on healthy options available at the UMD dining halls.

“I know that when people come into college, it’s a shift. You’re independent, you don’t have to eat your vegetables, you can choose whatever you want,” Ro said. “The problem is that in the dining hall there are a lot of greasy foods that are really appealing… it starts getting old quickly, especially when you gain weight, that also gets old quickly.”

The university’s dining plan changed from a point-based to an anytime dining system since last school year. Don’t let the title fool you; this has actually brought upon unwanted changes to dining at the school.

“A lot of the options decreased,” Ro said. “You could find easier ways to eat healthier back then. Now, it’s either there or it’s not.”

Since then, Ro has a received a lot of complaints from her friends regarding the lack of choices. They simply didn’t know what to eat anymore.

“I started to tell them slowly, ‘Try this. Try this.’ And then I thought about doing the same thing with the Health and Wellness Committee.”

And thus, Healthy Hacks was born: an initiative designed to make healthy eating at the dining halls exciting through eye-catching infographics.

The Healthy Hacks

During the month of March, Healthy Hacks was featured on Terps with Taste, a blog run by student nutritionists at the university. One of the Healthy Hacks that gained popularity was a peanut noodle-inspired protein dish pictured below:

pasta, spaghetti
Ally Tobler

Graphics by Christine Shen

This unique dish is perfect for a post-workout lunch as it is packed with protein and veggies. It also makes use of the underrated stir-fry station at the university’s South Campus Dining Hall. 

“I recently talked to one of my friends and she said she tried it herself after I sent her this infographic. She loved it. Then she sent it to her boyfriend...her boyfriend only eats that now,” Ro said.

Here is another Healthy Hack that is useful for those class diner runs:

blueberry, muesli, milk, cereal, corn, sweet
Ally Tobler

Graphics by Christine Shen

Former SGA Health and Wellness Director and senior biochemistry major Melanie Zheng said, “One thing I like that Ro did with her graphics to encourage people to try new things was putting where you find certain foods in the dining hall. It’s more specific to UMD in that case.”

Tired of boring salads composed of iceberg lettuce and soggy tomatoes? Switch it up by following this new, never-before-seen Healthy Hack not yet released to the UMD world:

carrot, pepper, rice, vegetable, salad
Ally Tobler

Graphics by Jonathan Allen

This particular Healthy Hack features underappreciated items from the salad bar such as kale, quinoa and sunflower seeds. The salad bar can be daunting at times, but Ro hopes to diminish this fear of the unknown with these infographics.

“There are these options that you can create yourself,” Ro said. “I think that gets people interested in what they’re eating. And when you’re interested in what you’re eating you tend to eat healthier.”

The Importance of Eating Clean

Healthy eating at this time in our lives is more crucial than we realize.

“The reason why students need to be more aware of healthy eating is because you have that responsibility shift but also the lifestyle choices you make in college are what you would keep in the real world,” Melanie said.

Although the school year is over, Ro hopes to keep the momentum for this initiative going. As Healthy Hacks grows, she wants the infographics to be featured on the three-sided tents on the dining hall tables because, like she said, “If you’re by yourself eating, what are you going to do besides read the tents?”

Ro also said that next year, she wants to use Healthy Hacks to promote the Health and Wellness Committee of SGA at the university.

Ro, a foodie, has her own food blog that she started last summer. Check it out at!

Want to be a part of the Healthy Hacks initiative? Interested in joining SGA’s Health and Wellness Committee? Email Ro at