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Healthy Dining in the Dorms

20 Tips to Eat Healthier on Campus
  -- By SparkPeople Editorial Staff
Even though the notorious "Freshman 15" is really just a myth, leaving home for the first time can translate into weight gain or bad eating habits. It's hard to make healthy choices when confronted with a buffet of options in the dining hall. Plus, your parents won't be around to remind you to eat your veggies and late night pizza delivery can easily turn into a habit. We turned to the members of SparkPeople, who know a thing or two about changing bad habits, to get their tips for eating healthier when you go away to college.

Ask for Help
No matter what you're trying to accomplish, going it alone can be tough. If your goal is to practice healthier eating habits, turn to those around you for support and information. There are lots of people you can ask for help including your roommate, a nutritionist at your school's health center or the manager of your dining hall. Here's what SparkPeople members had to say: Practice Portion Control
When faced with a buffet-style dining hall full of food options, it can be difficult not to overdo it. Become familiar with what recommended portion sizes really look like and make sure you have a solid understanding of basic nutrition guidelines. Here's what SparkPeople members had to say: Watch Out for Extra Calories
You're certainly familiar with the phrase "empty calories," which refers to foods and drinks that are packed with calories (usually from sugar) but offer little to no nutritional benefits and/or won't make you actually feel full for very long. The other kind of calories to watch out for are the ones you consume when you stay up late studying, go out drinking with friends or just generally don't get enough sleep. When your body is tired, it will make you want to eat more so you'll have enough energy to get through your busy day. Here's what SparkPeople members had to say: "Cook" for Yourself
Though it might be difficult to actually cook full meals in your dorm room, you'd be surprised what you can accomplish with a mini-fridge and an electric kettle or hot plate. You can also keep healthy snack options on hand to make it easier to make good choices between meals. Here's what SparkPeople members had to say:
Get Creative
There are lots of little ways to make typical meals more healthy, you just have to pay attention to what you're putting on your plate. Pick one or two things to focus on at the beginning (such as snacking on fresh fruit or making sure to include at least one vegetable with every meal) and make more small changes over time. Here's what SparkPeople members had to say:
Whenever you feel stuck in a food rut or are ready to make more healthy changes in your life, SparkPeople will be there to help you along the way. Ask questions, join teams, track your progress and enjoy your first experience of living on your own. This may be a very challenging time in your life, but it can also be one of the most fun and exciting, too!