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Eating Healthy in Commons


Staff Writer

It is no secret that eating healthily in college is not always easy, but without seeing what goes into a meal, the task is almost impossible. In all fairness, Commons publishes all nutritional information online in a twenty-three-page document; however it is hardly portable. It is similarly unrealistic to expect students to ask for nutritional information at every station, while a line forms and halts behind them.

The United States Department of Agriculture website lists the following dietary recommendations for average Americans, which varies by activity level: 1,600 to 2,500 calories, a recommended 1,500 mg of sodium, less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat, and less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day.

What follows is a highlight of the least healthy items from the commons dining menu by station as well as a general nutritional profile of some of the most popular stations.

Am I condemning Common’s menu? Absolutely not, I am merely hoping to expose some of the least healthy items and make students aware of the choices they are making. And finally, do I think nutritional information, especially that which is double or triple daily recommended allowances should be more readily available as students get their meal? Yes, but that is a question for another day.

Breakfast Items

In my expedition into Common’s menu, I was pleasantly surprised by the relative healthiness of the breakfast offerings. Unfortunately, however, cooking oils are not readily advertised or listed and unless otherwise specified, the omelet station utilizes a butter substitute with 14 grams of saturated fat. When ordering an omelet, ask for “no butter” to ensure that this is not used in your omelet.
With 25g of fat per to links, pork sausage will gobble up an entire day’s worth of daily-recommended fat allowance. Finally, none of the cereals have sugar contents listed. Unlike in drinks, in which carbohydrates may only come from sugars, the number of sugars per serving cannot be determined from carbohydrates, as they may be either from grains or sugars.

Wok ‘N’ Roll Breakfast Items

Getting fresh vegetables at this station can be a healthy alternative to several other dishes at Commons. However, if possible, cut back on use of canola oil in the sauce as it contains 27 grams of fat, and ginger soy sauce, which contains 1,150 mg of sodium.

S.S. Grillers

While few items in this station can be considered healthy, the least healthy items are the cheeseburger, hamburger, hot dog, and Italian sausage. Most surprisingly, although the cheeseburger and hamburger have the same number of calories (327), at 24g of fat the cheeseburger actually has 4g less of fat than the hamburger. The hot dog without a roll has 330 calories, 31g of fat, and 1,030 mg of sodium. Comparatively, the Italian sausage has 429 calories, 29.4 g of fat, and 2,653 mg of sodium, almost double the daily-recommended amount.

Pete’s Za Pie

All of the pizza varieties offered contain less than 300 calories, and while several options are relatively high in fat, only the bacon cheeseburger pizza comes in at a startling 13.6 g of fat.

Salad Bar

It is hard to go wrong with selecting an option from the salad bar, as long as the lettuce is not drenched in high-fat dressings like blue cheese (13g of fat), creamy Caesar (16g of fat), golden Italian (14g of fat), or parmesan peppercorn (16g of fat).


If I may impart one piece of advice to promote weight loss and improve health, it is to avoid pork, which is high in fat across the board in Bistro’s dishes.  But by far, the unhealthiest item on Bistro’s regular menu is the meat lasagna with tomato sauce.
One 4×6 slice contains 1,100 calories, 48g of fat, and 4,011mg of sodium. In other words, one 4×6 piece of lasagna replaces almost an entire day’s worth of calories, two days worth of fats, and three days worth of allotted sodium.

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