Eat This, Not That: How to Navigate the Bars, Dining Hall, and Other Food Traps

From late night study sessions to 3am drunken binges, it can be hard to stay on track with a busy course load and social life. Mind you, I’m not saying you can’t ever indulge. That would be pretty unrealistic of me. Instead, today’s post is about identifying common food traps on campus and what you can do to combat them. There’s no reason to surrender to a slice of deep dish pizza, a brownie sundae, or a tequila sunrise. (Although I will admit, all three taste fantastic). Here are some great alternatives you can eat that taste great but won’t ruin your plan to stay healthy this semester.

Double Cheeseburger vs. Lettuce Wrapped Turkey Burger

Whether it’s the dining hall, a college bar, or a late night fast food run, there’s no doubt you’ve been tempted at least once by a juicy double cheeseburger. But did you know that a burger and fries at your favorite joint can easily back over 900 calories? Never mind how this meal has enough cholesterol and sodium to make you the first 20 year old to get a heart attack on campus.

There are a couple things you can do to make your burger and fries much healthier. For starters, try substituting lean ground turkey for beef. This will definitely lower the saturated fat content of the burger. Instead of a traditionally refined white bun, wrap your burger in romaine lettuce leaves that provide you will a ton fiber and crunch. And finally, swap those disgusting French fries for a baked sweet potato topped with a dash of cinnamon and even a few mini marshmallows if you’re feeling adventurous.

Ice Cream Sundae vs. Vegan Banana ‘Ice Cream’

I understand that about once a month, PMS turns you into an evil, binging, sugar-addicted bitch. But your body and health are unfortunately not as forgiving. Instead of sinking your teeth into a refined sugar death pit (i.e. a giant brownie), try making some vegan banana ‘ice cream.’ While a typical sundae can pack over 500 calories, with this version you can enjoy a giant bowl of ice cream for only 200 calories, plus get your potassium for the day.

Chicken Wraps and Subs vs. Chicken Salad

As gross as dining hall food can be, there are usually one or two items that somehow taste good whether you’re sober or drunk. Wraps and sandwiches are usually safe bets at most dining halls (how difficult is it to make a decent sandwich?). But as great as these sandwiches taste, they can easily pack over 600 calories and 1,000 mg of sodium. Ditch the white flour tortilla and load up on some antioxidant-rich greens to make your favorite wrap or sandwich into a salad. This way, you’ll get all the flavor of your favorite sub without the added calories that will pack on pounds.

Long Island Iced Tea vs. Sweet Tea Vodka ‘Lemonade’

Everyone knows that a girl who orders Long Island iced teas is doing so to get as drunk as possible. Sure she might get drunk, but she’s also going to turn into a fatass no one wants to party with. Super fancy drinks with multiple liquors and sweeteners usually pack loads of calories. Instead, make a skinny version of your own Long Island ice tea. Mix sweet tea flavored vodka with club soda. Add fresh lemon juice and a dash of simple syrup if you think it needs to be sweeter. This version packs a mere 205 calories compared to a long island iced tea that has over 400.

Banana Foster Stuffed French Toast vs. Veggie Omelet

A weekend wouldn’t be a weekend without Sunday brunch and mimosas. Don’t think you can cure your hangover with that stuffed French toast. You might feel better at first, but really you’re only putting yourself in deeper calorie debt, not including all that you drank the night before. Try to stay away from the starchy foods like pancakes or French toast. Order a three egg omelet with veggies instead. This protein packed meal will help with your hangover and keep hunger at bay for hours.

No matter what the social event, restaurant, or other food moment, there’s no need to fall into a fattening or high-calorie food trap. With these low-calorie and healthier alternatives you can still have your cake and eat it too—literally.

Feature Image by tawest64 via Flickr

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