A guide to dorm room eating

by Carmen Borrison

Chapman University freshman Olivia Graef opened her refrigerator to reveal a jar of salsa, a cheese and grape platter that had expired, a can of Red Bull, a bottle of Coke, a brown banana, and some hot sauce. Desperate, but too lazy to venture elsewhere, she had to accept the inevitable: she’s living in a dorm room and will have to make a meal of her sad array of snacks.

College students living in the dorms know that there is better food to be consumed than what they eat on a day-to-day basis, but still feel helpless in the fight against the "Freshman 15.”

“I don’t want to be eating Cup O’ Noodles as much as I do, but it’s just easy. It’s sadly become a big part of my diet," Graef said.

Many dorm dwellers do not realize that there are many eating options to choose from besides just these snack food staples. With a little creativity and effort, eating better can be easy and afforable as well.

Time is a huge element in dorm room eating, and many students are forced to eat on the go, which is why snack food is so popular. The snack is probably the most interesting dorm meal of the day; students have to be creative when it comes to what concoctions they can create with only a microwave.

“I made oatmeal in my microwave last night, it’s my favorite late night snack!” Graef said.

Morgan Mein, a freshman fine arts major at Chapman, also has discovered multiple tasty dorm meals.

“One time I made Pad Thai in the microwave. It was freaking delicious!" Mein said.

Gourmet microwave meals like this can be made using a few simple ingredients and spices, or via frozen dinner meals.

“For more of a quick snack, I usually will just eat peanut butter off a spoon," Mein said. 

As appetizing and typical sounding of a dorm room student’s snack as that is, peanut butter is actually very high in protein, healthy fats, and potassium. These are all essential to a balanced diet, particularly to vegetarians who could use the extra protein. With vegetables, crackers or by itself, peanut butter can be a tasty and healthy choice for an quick to-go snack.

Despite the popularity of Cup O’ Noodles and other packaged ramen soups, why not try other healthier soup alternatives for a quick and simple meal? While most noodles and soups are high in fat and sodium content, other canned soups like Campbell’s Healthy Request are made with lower sodium. Plus, these Healthy Request soups are microwavable, making it a great option for the college students living in dorms with limited utilities.

Gretchen Grage, a Chapman University freshman, stays healthy by monitoring her snacking in the dorms. 

“I try to pick up food from the gluten free/dairy free store in the Circle," Grage said. "They have some great stuff in there.”

If you surround yourself with healthy food, then you are more likely to eat healthy food. Even though the gluten free and dairy free stores downtown may frighten students away due to the stereotypes, some of the organic and healthy choice are a fantastic option that students should be open to trying.

In addition to that, there is also the local Farmer’s Market just a few blocks away from the Circle open every Saturday from 9am-1pm. This market sells fresh and organic fruits, as well as home made hummus, pita, real fruit popsicles, granola and other healthy delicious snacks that can be easily stored in a dorm room fridge. More students should be aware and take advantage of this fresh and lively market located walking distance away from the dorms.

The cafeteria by the dorms, or Caf, as it is referred to by Chapman students, can either be a savior or a killer. It all depends on how you take advantage of it. Although the cafeteria does offer many delicious and convenient options for students, there is more that it could be providing to students to help them make healthier decisions that are satisfying and still delicious. Then these students are not forced to slip back into eating the pizza, pasta, cookies that are enticingly laid out on display for all to admire.

“I don’t think that there are enough vegetarian options at the caf," Mein said. "Basically, my options are grilled cheese sandwiches or fake chicken from the vegan station. I don’t like fake chicken.”

These problems need to be spoken out about in the dorm community, and suggestions need to be heard in order to start improving the quality and variety of food options at the number one most dined at spot by students living in the dorms.

If you would like to make a suggestion as to what the cafeteria serves, there are comment cards located at the front by the door, or you can follow this link to the customer service page on the dining hall’s website: http://www1.chapman.edu/dining/people/service.html.

Students do not realize that the food they consume can impact not only their body and mood, but also how they perform in school.

“The better food you eat, the better you are able to concentrate. Second to getting plenty of sleep, you need to feed your brain well in order to study well," said licensed psychologist Nancy Small.

For example, certain heavy or greasy foods like hamburgers and pizza release the hormone serotonin, that when consumed can make you more tired and lethargic. The large amounts of caffeine in sodas and coffee injested in by many students can also be harmful to the body, and can disrupt sleep quality and quantity. All of these aspects of the food students consume has an enourmous effect on their concentration and performance skills.

Graef, however, still has the salsa, can of Red Bull, bottle of Coke, brown banana, and hot sauce in her fridge (she finally threw out the cheese and grape platter). But her reality doesn’t have to be yours.

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