No matter what your eating habits were like at home, the minute you step onto a college campus, it is inevitable that you'll be won over by the dining halls.

Immediate access to french fries, pizza and soft serve ice cream is extremely tempting, and the new anytime dining plan has meant that you can eat unlimited amounts of food however many times a day that you choose in any of the UMD dining halls. What more could you want?

However, eventually that will wear off. You may find yourself feeling tired and sluggish, sick, realizing that the freshman 15 may be closer than you think, or just craving healthy food again.

I'm not saying that the UMD Dining Halls don't have healthy options, but between the lack of variety and the lure of all the not-so-healthy options, they can sometimes be difficult to find. However, if you want to eat healthy in the dining halls, there's a way!

1. Try to always put something green (or orange) (or red) on your plate

It may seem daunting, but the options are there.

The "Homestyle" areas in the dining halls always have some sort of vegetable, and so do the rotating specials. There are plenty of other places to get some fruits and veggies that I'll get into later. Lastly, there's always hand fruit that you can grab and eat on the way out.

2. Don't give up on the salad bar

coffee, beer
Cara Newcomer

It's well known that you don't go to the dining halls for a five-star salad bar, but you shouldn't give up on them completely. The salad bar is an easy place to go to get some veggies (obviously)!

Even if you're not feelin' a whole salad, you can take some cucumbers, peppers, or whatever else looks good. It's also a great place to get fresh fruit like cantaloupe, pineapple or grapes.

In addition, South Campus Dining Hall usually has a variety of healthy grains such as quinoa and wheatberries (which are a personal fave of mine) that can be used as a healthy, protein-filled side or salad topping. Even though the offerings may not look appetizing everyday, it's worth it to get into the habit of checking it out when you go in for your meals.

3. Sneak veggies into your meal

juice, smoothie, sweet, vegetable, herb, milk
Sarah Silbiger

I'm not saying that you should pull a Jessica Seinfeld and put spinach in your brownies, but there are plenty of brainless ways to add veggies into your main course.

My personal favorite is the make your own pasta station, where you can pick up to five proteins/vegetables that will be cooked in your choice of oil or water, then added to your choice of sauce and pasta. Eating your spinach isn't as painful if it's drowning in Alfredo sauce!

Other ways you can do this is by making your own omelette in the mornings for breakfast, or everyone's favorite stir fry for dinner. If you go to South campus, you can make your own (if you can handle the line), or get the pre-made stir fry in the large skillets at any dining hall.

If you really want to sneak some veggies into your diet, check out the smoothie bar. Everyday, they offer two different types of smoothies, with different combinations of fruits and green leafy vegetables. I promise you, they're so good that you won't even be able to tell that you're drinking spinach! These are especially great if you need to get in and out of the dining hall quickly.

4. Build your meal around grilled chicken

chicken, carrot, cucumber
Serena Martinez

It's always available and always seems to be in high demand. Grilled chicken is a great source of protein, and is super versatile.

If you want to build a healthy meal, start off with a piece of grilled chicken and go from there. You can make it into a sandwich, throw it over some pasta, or combine it with whatever starches look good to you. Don't forget your fruits and veggies!

5. Moderation is the key!

It may be something you've heard a million times, but it's so true. Eating food that's not the healthiest isn't a sin: just make sure you don't overdo it.

However, that doesn't mean you should deprive yourself either. If you want some tater tots, get some tater tots! Just make sure to also grab some broccoli while you're at it. If you're going to take advantage of unlimited dessert, you should also take advantage of unlimited fruits and vegetables.

College allows us tons of freedom, including the freedom to choose what, where and when we eat. However, the reason we're given all this freedom is because we're viewed as adults who have the knowledge to know the repercussions of the choices we make.

The options are there: both healthy and not-so-healthy. I'm not expecting myself (or anyone reading this) to always pick every healthy option at every meal, but knowing that there are plenty of options available and easy ways to sneak healthy foods into my meals makes it a lot easier to balance the good and the not-so-good.