Healthy choices are there, you just have to look for them

Of all of the things college students have to adjust to, learning how to make mindful decisions about what they eat comes pretty low on the list, especially when you live in the dorms and have access to a cafeteria whenever you’d like.

Having lived on-campus the first two years of my college career, I know what it’s like to go into Riverview Café starving but with the idea in mind that I will make an effort to eat healthier.

I plan out the route in my mind that I will take to the salad bar, filled with a small selection of veggies and dressings, and perhaps make my way over to the pasta bar, grabbing a piece of fruit from their selection on my way.

When I got through the line and into the cafeteria, however, my senses were instantly assaulted with the smells of burgers, pizza and other fried foods, making the choice to eat healthy a much more difficult decision.

The problem is not that the cafeteria doesn’t make healthy choices available to the students; it is that, while they are there, they are not advertised or paid nearly as much attention to as the other sections of food.

It’s up to students to be aware of all the different choices available and make their own decisions based on what suits their needs.

Another issue is how often college students eat out, especially after hours when the cafeteria is closed. Though Riverview Café is open until midnight on weekdays and 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. College students are known for their late night eating habits, especially on the weekends — long after the café has closed.

According to a study done by, “College diners are 87 percent more likely to order late-night meals than the average diner.”

I know my late-night eating habits occur mostly on Friday or Saturday nights, when I’m looking to treat myself to pizza and wings with friends or a quick trip to Taco Bell to quell the after-hours rumbling in my stomach.

However, a lot of these problems also stem from our lifestyle choices before we came to college.

“Parents need to have conversations with their children about healthy eating habits before they head off to college … and model healthy lifestyles with their own behavior,” said a source from

It is common knowledge we learn from observing, and as we grow up a huge part of what we observe comes from our parents. We must be aware of the healthy choices that are out there, and how to make them, before we come to school. At school it is our choice to continue to follow our habits, or break them and start over.

For some students, the choice is easy. Sophomore Jocelyn Bold, who lives on campus and eats at Riverview Café at least twice a day, said eating healthy is easier for her to do at school than it was at home.

“On campus (at Riverview Café), they always have the nutrition facts right there for you,” Bold said. “And they have a lot of different choices. There’s always something for everyone.”

Even those with specific needs, such as vegans or those with gluten allergies, have a number of options available to them. The Marketplace has veggie burgers available for purchase, and Riverview Café offers a corner specifically for gluten-free students, including a special toaster and dairy products.

Perhaps it isn’t a matter of having enough options, but instead knowing how to find them. Before coming into Riverview Café, take a look at the menu posted on the TV screen in the stairwell or online at

When you know exactly what is available, the decision to eat healthier becomes much simpler.