Eating healthy can be hard. It is challenging when there are quicker, cheaper alternatives more readily available. When students walk into the dining center they can wait in line for the salad bar or deli line or they can walk right up to the grill and get chicken tenders and french fries with no wait at all.

In the Dining Center, it is also more expensive to eat healthily. Salad prices are determined by weight, whereas meals like pasta or burgers have a standard price. While it may seem challenging at times, there are always ways to eat healthy while on a college meal plan.

There are several meal plans that students have access to ranging anywhere from $875/semester to $2,100/semester. Meal plans can only be changed during the first two weeks of a semester. Any remaining balance from the first semester will carry over to the second semester, but a remaining balance at the end of the second semester is forfeited. The plan that freshman are required to start with is $1,900, but the traditional meal plan is $1,350. It is important to keep this balance in mind because students are often left with either too much money on their plans at the end of the year or too little.

Make a budget that takes into account how many meals students eat in a day and what the approximate costs are of the choices students make. Make sure to plan out what it typically costs to eat for a week, month or semester and then make choices about which plan will work best. Finding the plan that meets a student’s specific needs is essential if a student is looking to save money. If students are thinking about healthier eating, create a healthy menu based on Dining Center choices and try it for a week. Be sure to estimate what each meal costs as well as its nutritional value. Creating menus in advance can make healthy eating and managing a meal plan’s bottom line easier.

Another important aspect of eating healthy on campus is remembering that menus at SNHU have items listed with symbols such as VG, O and V. The symbols indicate if the food is vegetarian, organic or vegan to meet any dietary restrictions that students may have. If a student has a specific allergy, the Simple Servings and My Zone stations provide meals that are prepared without common allergens such as milk, eggs, wheat, soy, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts and any gluten-containing ingredients.

There are also some easy tips to keep in mind for general healthier eating as well. For instance, bring a reusable water bottle to the dining center and get water instead of soda or even pricey bottled water. This avoids unnecessary amounts of sugar and is also free. Also, add more fruits and vegetables into all meals. Getting stir-fry? Ask for all the vegetables instead of just broccoli. When getting a burrito bowl from Fiesta Zone, an omelet from Global Cuisine or a sandwich from the Ultimate Deli, get as many vegetables as possible. These items are not charged based on weight and adding more will not hurt students’ outstanding balances. It will cost the same amount regardless of what’s inside the meal.

Keeping meals well-balanced is also important. A well-balanced meal is about one half vegetables such as broccoli, peppers and tomatoes, and fruit, such as apples, grapes or melons. Then add one-quarter grains consisting of whole wheat bagels, potatoes or brown rice. Finally, pile on one-quarter of proteins such as beans, chickpeas, eggs, fish, chicken, etc.

If students have any further questions about eating healthy, the SNHU dietitian, Kristen Chulada, is available to discuss topics ranging from athletic performance, nutrition, mindful eating and even weight concerns as well. Contact her at to learn more or schedule an appointment.

Students can also visit Choose My Plate to learn more about healthy eating and even create a personalized plan to help meet any specific needs students might have.

Leave a Reply