Eating Healthier At The College Snack Bar

             In college or at work there might be a convenient snack bar that you can go to but may be throwing off your diet. You should go for the healthier food options and get more bang for your buck. At first glance there may not look like too many healthy options, but there is plenty to eat at the den without worry of a subsequent heart attack. In many cases you don’t even have to sacrifice taste. After extensive examination of food options and trial and error over the years, I have compiled some pretty good guidelines for eating healthier at your local snack bar.

                For hot sandwiches, the healthier options are the Grilled Chicken Sandwiches and the Tuna Melts. The Chicken Tenders in the Chicken Tender Wraps unfortunately are deep-fried which adds massive amounts of calories from saturated fats. Sodexho may be celebrating a year since ridding its food of Trans Fats (fats that cause heart disease) but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of saturated fats in many of their foods. The greasy Steak and Cheese also contains a massive amount of calories, especially from saturated fat. Paninis show some promise and are healthier options than the old standbys just mentioned. The cold sandwiches you ask them to make for you can also be pretty healthy. Pack them with lean tuna, turkey, or chicken for protein then add plenty of veggies for fiber and vitamins/minerals. Skip the mayo and go for spicy mustard or another lower calorie condiment.

            Salads of course are excellent options, just make sure that you don’t pick out one of the 200 calorie dressings that are available. Go nuts with the all the healthy fruits available as well. Stick to soups that are light and contain mostly chicken, veggies, and brown rice for less fat and higher protein amounts. If you are a big yogurt eater, go for the “Light and Fit” Dannon Yogurt which has significantly less sugar and fat than the “Fruit on the Bottom” option. Pass on the pre-made Calzones and Pizza and go for a Bagel with peanut butter instead or one of the healthier sandwiches mentioned earlier. The mozzarella sticks and French fries are great if you like eating pure grease and clogging your arteries so they probably shouldn’t be a consistent choice. If you’re stocking up on cereal, Raisin Bran or Raisin Bran Crunch are your best bets compared with our childhood favorites Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, etc. which aren’t much better for you than candy. 

            As for chips, again there are poor choices and healthier choices to make. The standard Doritos, Fritos, and Lays potato chips should be subbed in for much lighter Baked Lays, Baked Doritos, Sun Chips, or Stacy’s Pita Chips. In each of these healthier options there is either less calories, less overall and saturated fat, more protein, or more complex carbohydrates. In my opinion I think these healthier choices taste great except for the Baked Doritos which taste more like cardboard than any Dorito I’ve ever eaten.  Oh well, can’t win them all. Other snacks that are pretty healthy include the Nature’s Valley granola or nut bars which will satiate you much more than those sugary and refined Rice Crispy Treats. Sorry to break it to you, but Poptarts are not the breakfast of champions.

            Drink choice at the den is pretty extensive and there are plenty of good options to choose from. If you’re a coffee fiend, for instance, take it black or sweeten with Splenda and Skim Milk for a very low calorie pick-me-up. Even better would be to take advantage of their wide array of teas which usually contain large amounts of antioxidants, especially green tea. Tea has about one third to one half the caffeine content of coffee which can be better for those trying to lower their caffeine intake. The hot chocolate at the den is absolutely delicious but unfortunately that is because it is loaded with cream and sugar so I would avoid that in excess. Diet sodas are obviously superior to regular sodas. Making the switch can save you hundreds of calories and a spike in blood sugar that will cause you to crash shortly after. Orange juice has a little more nutritional value than apple, cranberry, or grapefruit juice. Gatorade is really only a beneficial drink after a workout or during a workout lasting over an hour in which you sweat profusely. Sobe’s Lifewater is pretty much Gatorade with a few vitamins added to it and a less potent mixture of electrolytes. I’d obviously recommend going for the skim milk or the low fat Milk Chugs over the whole milk options. The Chocolate Milk Chug can actually be an effective makeshift post-workout drink though in the absence of a protein shake since it contains the sugars and protein needed after intense exercise for optimal recovery. The regular bottled tea drinks have more sugar than antioxidants in them so opt for the diet tea drinks. When in doubt, a bottle of plain water is never a bad decision.

            Hopefully after reading this article, you’ll change a few of your choices at the Den. Every once in awhile we all need a nice greasy Steak and Cheese Sub or some Crispy Chicken Tenders but most of the time you should think before you place that order. If you eat correctly there, instead of putting on some fat you may just find yourself leaner than ever. Now time to get to the gym and hit the treadmill! Bon appetit baby!

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