The Gym Rat Diaries: Eating clean on Campus

The Gym Rat Diaries: Eating clean on Campus

Every other week, this column will review ways and places to eat healthy in D.C.

When you’re required to have a dining plan your first two years at AU, it may seem impossible to make healthy choices. The Eagle has even written about all of the calories in Tavern food. When you have delicious tenders and fries available for a meal swipe, why eat anything else? When you’re trying to avoid that infamous freshman fifteen way past your first semester, you may wonder if there is a way to eat clean on campus.

Where To Try

Every dining location at AU has some healthier options on the menu, you just need to know where to look. Assuming you want to use up your meal plan, check out the places at AU that take a meal swipe beyond the salad bar at the Terrace Dining Room.

In the Tavern, check out Bene Pizza and Pasta, Elevation Burger and Global Fresh. In Mary Gradydon Center you can swipe at POD mini, Freshii and Einstein’s Bagels. Down in the Bender Pavillion you can grab something at Eagle’s Nest and Subway.

Though the meals that catch your eye may seem tempting, take a step back and check out some of the hidden healthier options available at these dining locations.

What To Try

In the Tavern you can head to Bene Pizza and Pasta and skip the tenders or pepperoni pizza slices. Bene offers a chicken ceasar salad for a swipe, which is full of protein and veggies minus the heavy grease. If salads aren’t your thing, check out one of Elevation Burger’s two veggie burger options, both under 350 calories. Also, skip the fries and opt for a side salad. You save nearly 500 calories with that simple switch. Check out the menu online or in the Tavern for additional calorie information.

Down the hall in MGC, Freshii and Einsteins both offer some low calorie, delicious meal options. Freshii can be tricky at times, hiding behind high calorie sauces and high carbohydrate burritos. If you want the healthiest choice, check out their salads and add on a protein. Their ninja salad is delicious and is only just over 350 calories. If a salad still isn’t a sufficient meal for you, check out the falafel bowl which is tempting and just over 500 calories. Take a look at all the nutrition facts for Freshii here for more information.


Everyone loves to start their day with an Einstein’s bagel, but you have to be careful not to pack on the pounds stopping there every morning. If eaten in moderation, some meals can be fairly healthy and filling. Einstein’s offers Thintastic bagels, made with low calorie, thin bagels, and egg whites. You can check out the additional calorie counts here, but another good choice is to grab a whole grain bagel to keep you fuller longer.

If you are walking back from Jacobs Fitness Center and you catch a smell of that fresh baked bread at Subway, it may be hard to resist. Subway is always tough, because even if you check out their nutritional information here, it is very dependent on what you put on your sandwich. Starting out with a bread that’s not super high in calories, like wheat or flatbread, and sticking to a 6’’ sandwich is your best bet. Follow with a lean protein like grilled chicken or turkey and pack on the veggies. Subway also offers veggie patties or the veggie delight sandwich to keep it even lighter. Make sure you are careful not to add on too many sauces, and always ask for the sauce to be put on light. You can add salt, pepper, and oregano at the end if you need a healthier flavor boost to your sandwich.

Tips To Know

Meal swipes come with a drink everywhere you go, so it may seem like a waste to fill your Subway cup with water to avoid the sugary sodas. If you use the machine in the tavern, you can fill your cup with flavored water or sparkling water to get your money’s worth and still avoid all that extra sugar.

Don’t forget your fruit. Check your receipt from Freshii or Bene and you will see you are automatically charged for a fresh fruit. Always grab it, because it may be a good snack later on.

Have an idea of what you want before you head out. If you know on Tuesday after Economics your friends like to grab tenders, make a decision to grab a single patty burger at Elevation Burger or a salad from POD mini instead. Tell a friend before you go that you are changing your order that week, so when you get to the counter you don’t change your mind while the fries stare back at you.

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