Nutrition nightmare: eating healthy on campus

Illustration by Morgan Kennedy, Staff Illustrator.

From the eyes of a self-proclaimed health-conscious student, UR’s Dining Services don’t offer the best food selection for those who want to maintain a healthy diet. Whether one wants to deflate those unlovable love handles, or merely maintain one’s weight, finding something healthy is essentially impossible and, at least in my experience, unnecessarily exhausting.  There are obvious items I always avoid, like the slice of pizza that’s practically oilier than a greaser’s hair. Beyond the salad bar or the vegan station, I can rarely find anything that is acceptable to both my taste and dietary standards. I don’t really fancy myself a picky eater, but I think I spend more time trying to find something adequate to eat than a high school girl does picking out a prom dress.

Danforth is the least of many evils. I can always rely on at least one station to eat from without worrying about the freshman fifteen. Still, I always end up going to the same stations, which become rather repetitive after a few months. The burger and pizza stations will never be a healthy choice, and the other dishes offered elsewhere make an excessive use of salty seasonings. Now, I can’t exclusively eat salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If I do, my body will atrophy into the likeness of a stick bug. I still need a diverse source of protein, and no matter how many fruits and vegetables I eat, I can’t do that without having some sort of meat or reducing myself to taking supplements. I still have to give Danforth some credit; there are days when it cooks up some pretty good dishes that are not fattening. Nevertheless, the fact that my chicken is always borderline raw and that I always stand in unbearably long lines keeps me from saying Danforth is an excellent dining facility.

Still, Douglass makes Danforth seem like a restaurant founded by Chef Gordon Ramsey. The salad bar — which I otherwise deem as my safety dish — is subpar. Beyond that, everything else is too fattening to even consider. However, I can recall many a time when I caved into my temptations and got something from one of the other stations. I had a plate of eggs with a pancake and some sausage and poured myself a more than generous serving of syrup. The pancake was so stale, that it was as pliable as a burnt tortilla. No matter how much syrup I poured, I could not make it edible. The sausage had the texture of a football, so I didn’t even bother to try it. Then, when I dug into the eggs with my fork, I could have sworn they were blue inside. I’m not sure if they were that color because Dining employees wanted to pay tribute to Dr. Seuss in a weird kind of way, but it certainly made me lose my appetite.

In terms of pleasing my palate, the Pit is undoubtedly the best. However, it is inherently incompatible with a healthy diet. I mean, I hardly doubt orange chicken with some chow mein constitutes a nutritious meal, and I don’t count the salad bar since its contents hardly differ from those of Douglass and Danforth. The Common Grill doesn’t really offer an alternative to fries or burgers, so the healthiest offerings are limited to Zoca or Blimpie, if one goes with a sandwich sans the dressing. And, like I’ve said before, eating the same thing gets old pretty fast.

It’s not impossible to maintain a balanced diet, but campus dining does hinder such an endeavor to a great extent. It’s no wonder that many students espouse to a hedonistic lifestyle of eat-whatever-you-want. It just takes too much discipline to eat something good for you at the expense of flavor. Personally, I am skeptical that any change will occur anytime soon. In the meantime, if it is of any comfort whatsoever, the government recently classified pizza as a serving of vegetables.

Diaz is a member of the class of 2015.

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