How to avoid the freshman 15 at OU

There are over 14 dining locations on Oakland University’s campus. This includes two dining halls, three cafés, one food court and several convenience stores. With all these options, unhealthy and binge eating can be tempting.

The food in the Vandenberg and Hillcrest Dining Halls is supplied by Chartwells, a company that provides food to over 50 college campuses in the United States. They’ve catered for OU since 2003.

“Nutrition plays a huge factor in the foods we serve on campus,” said Patrick Strzyinski, director of Chartwells at OU. “We have many healthy items, but we also have to take into account popularity.”

According to Strzyinski, burgers, fries and pizza are the most popular items on most college campuses. The Chartwells’ menus are created by chefs and nutritionists and then approved by the university.

The two dining halls have equally healthy options. Hillcrest features an international station, while Vandenberg has a Mongolian station. Both halls also have several vegetarian and vegan options. The options in the dining halls can feel overwhelming, but there are dozens of meal combinations to be made on any given day.

“For students who want to be more conscious of their eating habits, I recommend planning out meals ahead of time,” Strzyinski said.

Menus for both dining halls can be found online along with portions, sizes and calorie counts. Students can also filter the menus to show only vegan, vegetarian or gluten free options. By clicking the “Balanced U” filter, students can see foods that have balanced nutrients and portion sizes.

“We are open to suggestions from students,” Strzyinski said. “Our goal is to always bring a diverse and satisfying selection of food to the campus.”

For students who don’t have meal plans or want to venture outside the dining halls, there are several other dining options on campus. The Pioneer Food Court in the Oakland Center holds Subway, Chick-fil-A, Panda Express, Plum Market, Create and Moe’s Southwest Grill. Cafés on campus include the Healy Café in Elliott Hall, the Atrium Café in the Human Health Building, Einstein Bros. Bagels in the Engineering Center and Pawley Hall, and Frankie’s Café in the Kresge Library.

While all of these have healthy options, some are more nutritious than others. Create is essentially a salad bar for students to pick and choose from hundreds of combinations.

“I started dieting in January last year,” an anonymous OU senior said. “Create has been a life saver. Any time I’m in a rush, I can just get a salad to go. It’s a bonus that it’s affordable.”

Chick-fil-A offers bunless options for students trying to live a gluten-free lifestyle. Plum Market features hundreds of snacking options, including fruits, vegetables, soups and freshly prepared salads. While places like Moe’s and Panda Express are known for their high calorie counts, it’s still possible to find a healthy meal. Moe’s offers a grilled chicken salad and several different burrito bowls. Panda also offers bowl options.

Gaining the “freshman 15” may feel unavoidable with so many tasty options on campus, but each dining location offers unique opportunities to try something new and nutritious.