Haley Chi-Sing

Let’s be honest — one of the most negatively stereotyped aspects of the college experience is the dining hall.

Yes, maybe in the 70s or the 80s, the food was complete rubbish, but from what it seems, dining halls around the country have really stepped up their game.

BU is no exception. Compared to other universities — even those in Boston — BU’s dining hall food menus trump almost every other university in comparison. However, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind as you walk into Warren, West or Marciano that will ensure you have the healthiest and yummiest dining hall experience. 

Check the menu online.

Believe it or not, BU Dining Services has a website where they list each and every dish served at each and every dining hall. They also do a phenomenal job of updating their daily menus on their website. Every main course, side dish and dessert is listed to make you fully aware of what to expect when walking into any of BU’s dining halls.

This will allow you to weigh your options before deciding which dining hall to go to for each meal. Also, the fact that every single dish is listed makes it easy for you to create your custom combinations so you can have your ideal breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Remember, you don’t need to take the entire platter, you can just ask for certain foods or side courses.

Take a lap around the dining hall.

For the most part, the easy-to-grab foods are the first ones you’ll see when walking into the dining hall. DON’T GO FOR THOSE. Those foods are generally the most unhealthy. Example A: Grill Works and Pizza at Warren.

Instead, take a lap around the dining hall and scan your options. This way, you’ll get a better look at what the dining hall is offering, and that may even convince you to go somewhere else for your meal (GSU, anyone?).

Scanning the dining hall will also help with portion control. Once you’ve looked around, you can carefully choose what you want to serve yourself and put on your plate. That way, you only eat what you can.

But, if you’re up for seconds, you always know what else you can try and where to get it. AKA, don’t get distracted by a plate of fries if you’re heading to refill your soup bowl!

Be mindful of the main food groups.

Remember the five food groups from kindergarten? Well, they’ve come back to haunt you at last. Only this time as a friendly ghost who only wants to make sure you’re well-nourished.

For the most part, a healthy, balanced meal should consist of all five food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein and dairy. But, of course, every person is different, so feel free to adjust to your dietary needs and restrictions.

Luckily, the dining halls do a pretty good job providing balanced and delicious options that are vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, kosher (although only in Hillel), among other options. You just have to look out for them.

When it comes to eating at the dining hall, be sure to keep your five foods groups in mind. It’s alright to skip out on one or two of them, but always make sure your meal has at least three out of the five groups in order to ensure a clean, balanced meal.

What have you eaten so far?

Say it’s breakfast, and you’re walking into the dining hall. You can practically smell the french toast from your bedroom on the 15th floor. But, oh wait. You’ve got to eat fast to make it to your first class where your professor is kindly providing free donuts. Do you go for the french toast or the omelet station?

Sometimes, it’s just a french toast kind of day (let’s be real), but I said it once, and I will say it again, you need to make sure your meals are balanced. If you’re going to be having sweets later in the day, make sure you fill up on the other food groups in your other meals.

There’s no harm in having a couple of treats here and there — just make sure your dining hall meals balance out your sweet tooth. So, as you’re ready to serve yourself in the dining hall, make sure you do a quick mental run-through of your day ahead or what’s already happened.

What does your day look like? OR What have you done so far?

Do you have a ton of meetings today? Do you have swim or basketball practice? Are you taking a chill day and just hanging in your dorm?

]Being dietarily balanced doesn’t only apply to the food you consume, but your overall lifestyle and level of activities, as well.

If you’re an extremely active person, make sure you incorporate the right foods to fuel you for the rest of the day, such as lots of protein and enough carbs. If your day is somewhat slow or sedentary, you must also choose foods and dishes that match your level of activity, like cleansing vegetables.

Food is your fuel and your source of energy — choose the right food to get you through your day as best and as efficiently as possible. Fortunately, we can do so right at our home base dining hall by using these helpful tips.