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Simple Swaps at Dewick guarantees healthier eating habits

One of the hardest decisions I make each day is what to eat. This probably isn’t the same for most people, but I am quite indecisive and when everything looks good, I don’t know what to get. I don’t worry about eating healthy or following a strict diet; I eat what I enjoy but I keep in mind serving size and nutrition. It’s easy to go to the dining hall and grab a burger—it’s quick, easy to eat, delicious, familiar, and filling. But day after day, getting burger after burger gets banal and considerably unhealthier.

Dewick, the downhill dining hall at Tufts University, offers a great variety of choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all types of eaters. There are options for vegetarians and gluten-free foods as well as a wide selection for the omnivores out there. Dining Services does a great job in trying to support organic foods, sustainability, and fair trade. They also do a great job in providing nutritional information for the foods that you’re eating on the little cards above the trays. How many of you actually read the information on those cards? (I don’t blame you if you don’t, I rarely do…) But, it’s informative, and it may help you make the healthier choice in what you eat.

Considering the variety offered, it isn’t hard to make swaps to healthier options while picking something that you enjoy. Let’s take a look at two meals and compare how they stand nutritionally. The nutritional information is from Tufts Dining Services and given for the indicated serving size.

Meal 1 has a good balance of carbohydrates, meats, and vegetables keeping within the serving size. The fat content is very low, but the meal is filling with the meat and rice. It consists of:

2 servings—Grilled Sweet Chili Chicken     [serving size = 1 piece]

Calories: 148 kcal, Fat: 4.1 g, Cholesterol: 58.7 mg

1 serving—Basmati Rice                               [serving size = 4 oz]

Calories: 106 kcal, Fat: 0.4 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg

1 serving—Green Beans                                [serving size = 4 oz]

Calories: 24 kcal, Fat: 0.1 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg

1 serving—Carrot Strips                                [serving size = 4 oz]

Calories: 28 kcal, Fat: 0.1 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg

Altogether, this was 454 kcal for dinner with 8.8 g fat and 117.4 mg cholesterol.

Meal 2 was heavy in carbohydrates (from potatoes and sugary sauce) as well as meat:

1.5 servings—Grilled Beef Tips Mesquite    [serving size = 4 oz]

Calories: 317 kcal, Fat: 16.9 g, Cholesterol: 94.1 mg

1.5 servings—Oven Roasted Potatoes          [serving size = 4 oz]

Calories: 132 kcal, Fat: 3.9 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg

1 serving—Cheese Pizza                                [serving size = 1 slice]

Calories: 236 kcal, Fat: 8.1 g, Cholesterol: 10.1 mg

Together, Meal 2 was 910 kcal with 43.4 g fat and 151.3 mg cholesterol. Meal 2 has nearly two times the calorie count with almost five times as much fat as Meal 1.

The Grilled Beef Tips Mesquite are slathered in a sugary sauce that contributes a lot to the calories and fat content. The oven roasted potatoes are moderate, and can be eaten in moderation. The pizza is generally indulgent and everyone enjoys a slice once in awhile (except this time the slice was as hard as a rock). Swapping these options out for Meal 1 isn’t that hard. There is still a meat and carbohydrate component, though with leaner white meat and less grease. And there is the addition of vegetables for nutrients and color to the plate.

Swaps such as these are easy after developing self control. College is the time to do what you want, and that includes eating what you want. But for those scared of the Freshman Fifteen, be aware of what you put in your mouth. Make swaps once in awhile at least, and get adjusted to eating better and being able to make healthier choices. With the wide variety of choices and different combinations to make with them, your healthy swap is probably something you still enjoy!


– Christina Pan


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