How to Eat Healthy at UVU

 

fruitAs a college student it's easy to get in the habit of living off ramen, fast food, and vending machines. Eating whatever is cheapest is sometimes necessary, but in case you are someone who prefers to eat healthier too, read on!

About 4 years ago I went on a journey to lose 30lbs (which I did), but then came maintenance. This is hard enough, but even more difficult on a college campus. As a UVU student I have been able to make healthy eating choices even while on campus. Everyone’s health and diet will look different, but here are a few things I did to save money and also eat better. 

The options in this article were based on the strategy of only eating whole foods and focusing on getting as many veggies and meat as possible with limited or no sugar or processed carbs. To sustain a healthy eating lifestyle it’s not a diet. Diets are short term and are eating healthy if a long term lifestyle. It requires a change of mindset. Think of it like a sliding scale where on one side you have “eat perfect" and on the other “screw it I’m eating whatever.” You want to move slowly from "eating whatever" towards the side of the scale that has "eating perfect." I started viewing food options as good, better, and best and moved slowly from good to best. It is not realistic to eat perfect all the time, but making small changes over time is a very sustainable way to make eating healthy a habit. If you quit something cold turkey or make too many drastic changes, it won't stick.

 

Good

  • Mtn. Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost energy drinks

While these still contain sugar, they contain much less than their competitors. They taste great and have only 11 grams of added sugar as opposed to Rockstar which can contain up to 59 grams of sugar. Switching to Kickstart Hydrating Boost is a great way to make an incremental change to consume less sugar without quitting cold turkey.

  • Gatorade

If cutting back on sugar is your goal, consider switching from soda to sports drinks like Gatorade. Coca Cola contains 65 grams of sugar in one 20 oz bottle, while Gatorade contains about half that with 34 grams

  • Crunchy tacos from Taco Bell

Most of the items on the Taco Bell menu are extremely high in calories. If weight loss is your goal, try having 2 crunchy tacos. At 170 calories each this is price conscious and weight conscious meal. This is my go-to option when I'm running low on cash (two tacos is around $3).

  • Chicken club from Chick-fil-A

When I began my weight loss and healthy eating journey step one for me was cutting out all soda and fried foods. With just this change I lost 10lbs. If you followed the same steps, that means saying farewell to Chick-fil-A. A grilled chicken club is great way to still get your Chick-fil-A fix without the unhealthy fried food. Plus it has bacon on it!

  • Jamba Juice 

If you regularly have milkshakes or something similar, a healthy switch to smoothies could be right for you. Just keep in mind that one smoothie can contain enough calories to replace 1-2 meals, and contain as much sugar as a soda. Even though the sugar comes from fruit your body still reacts to it the same way. Jamba Juice also has an oatmeal bowl that could be healthier option if you normally eat Chick-fil-A or other fast food for breakfast. If your goal is weight loss, oatmeal may not be a good choice for you though. Check out Primal Potential for the golden rules of fat loss.

  • Subway

This can be a great alternative to a burger and fries! 6 inch sandwhiches are the best option. Consider looking up the nutritional information for the sandwhich you are considering, as some can contain over 1,000 calories. Subway contains more fresh ingredients and less processed and fried foods making it healthier than other fast food. 

  • Cup Bop

Offering a variety of meat, a few veggies, and rice and noodles, this is a fairly healthy choice on UVU's campus. As with Subway, some of their entrees can get upwards of 1000-1500 in calories, so be sure to check the nutritional information of their options and sauces. Shockingly enough, that's where a lot of calories and sugar come from. Don't choose any of the breaded/fried meat options.

  • Guru’s sweet potato fries and sandwiches

If you're searching for something similar to a burger and fries but a little better, this is an excellent option. Sweet potatos have fewer carbohydrates than regular potatoes, if your goal is fat loss, but overall their sandwhiches have real fresh ingredients making them a healthier option.

 

Better

  • Bottled water

This may be obvious, but the healthiest option for drinks on campus is water. It won't contain all the sugar that is in pretty much everything else out there.

  • Sushi

If you're in a hurry and need something healthy, try the sushi in the food court. Rice does contain quite a few carbs and it is high in the glycemic index, but if you select a role with nothing fried and no sauces, it's still a healthy option for a quick meal.

  • Panda Express (make one of the sides steamed veggies and select entrees that aren’t breaded/fried)

Panda Express is one of the few places on campus where you can buy vegetables. Consider getting steamed veggies as your side instead of noodles or rice, and select an entree where none of the meat is breaded and fried. Keep in mind some entrees are higher calories and contain more sugar than others. Some good optons are the beef and broccoli or chicken and green beans.

  • Power bowl from Taco Bell

The power bowl from Taco Bell comes in a vegatarian option as well as meat, and is similar to a costa vida salad, just with less lettuce. It comes in at 470 calories and contains items such as chicken, avacado, and black beans. Nothing is breaded or fried. This is an excellent option if it's late at night and you need dinner, as they are typically open later than all other restaurants (except for Subway).

  • Small costa vida chicken salad (pick one: tortilla, rice, or beans, say no to the other two). And meat and toppings go for it!

While most of the items on the menu are high in calroies and carbs, a small salad is a great option for a healthy meal. If weight loss is your goal, choose either a tortilla, rice, or beans, but say no to the other two. The dressing contains a lot of calories as well, so consider using only half of it. The healthiest and lowest calorie meat option is the shredded beef, but chicken is good too. I know their sweet pork is fantastic, but it is the highest calorie meat choice and has 17g of sugar.

  • Cup Bop (pick noodles or rice, but not both)

If you're working on making gradual improvements in your food habits, Cup Bop is still a good choice. To go from "good" to "better" pick either noodles or rice, but not both, and limit the amount of sauce or use soy sauce instead.

 

Best

  • Bring your own water bottle

The cheapest and best drinking option is to bring your own water bottle to campus and use one of the many drinking fountain stations to fill it up. They have water bottle filling stations all around campus making it cheap, easy, and healthy.

  • Bring your own food

This is the most time consuming option, but is also the cheapest and healthiest. Bringing your own food allows you to control portion sizes and exactly what is in your food. There are also microwaves on campus you can use to heat up your food if needed. Some things I would bring for breakfast and lunch are power bars, veggies and hummus/ranch, fruit, and salads (put dressing in a separate container). For dinners I would bring leftovers in a Pyrex container and heat it up in the microwave.

  • Greenline café

These are closed a lot of the time, but when they are open, have some of the healthiest, fast options. Salads, fruit, parfaits, power bars, and more is an example of the kinds of things they have. 

  • Side of veggies and teriyaki chicken (no sauce) from panda express

To go from "better" to "best" at Panda Express get one side and one entree (a bowl), with steamed veggies and their grilled teryaki chicken with no sauce. The sauce contains 14g of sugar.

  • Sm costa vida salad (no crispy strips on top, no tortilla, no rice, no beans-just meat, guac, sour cream, cheese, and dressing)

To go from "better" to "best" at Costa Vida, get a small chicken (or shredded beef) salad with just meat and lettuce. Ask for no beans, rice, tortilla, or tortilla strips. This is the lowest calorie and carb meal at Costa and is still delicious! 

  • Grilled chicken club from chick fil a with no bun (or other burgers with no buns)

Another great option for lunch is the grilled chicken club from Chick-fil-A with no bun. Just meat and avacado! Yum! This same approach can be taken at any burger place. Just ask for a burger by itself (no soda or fries) and no bun. Fast food buns are some of the most processed foods out there. Try and cut out anything that isn't a whole food if you're going for "best."

  • Salads from Guru’s (especially the cobb), salds from Chick-fil-A with grilled chicken, and salads from Subway

These last three options are all salads. It goes without saying that salads are the healthiest option on campus. Keep in mind that dressing can be most of the calories, as can large salads. Refer to nutritional information if your goal is weight loss.

 

I hope these food options help you on your healthy eating journey! Check out more blog posts here!