3

votes

paleo eating in dining halls

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 17, 2012 at 8:21 PM

Hi everyone, I'm on a college campus and I don't have access to a kitchen. Most days I eat at least one and sometimes two meals in the dining hall, and I find eating paleo very restrictive of what I can eat in the dining hall. For dinner, I usually get one of the soups if they don't have wheat although many times this means a bean-based alternative. I've been eating a lot more at the grill than before, and I usually get grilled chicken breast, a cheese-steak (without the bread), or a cheese-burger (without the bread). Most of the time I get a salad (spinach or mixed greens with carrots, olives, peppers, and sometimes cheese) as my side-dish with the meat and bring my own extra virgin olive oil since I don't know what they use for the dressings. I either skip dessert or get a piece of fruit at the end.

For breakfast/brunch, I usually get an omelette with vegetables and ham and cheese, sausage links and/or bacon.

I've completely eliminated any added sugars in my diet as well as grains, and have found that since doing that and eating more paleo (I'm not quite paleo since I'm still eating dairy and some beans/legumes), most food cravings have disappeared and I also have more energy during the day.

I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on my typical meal plan I listed above. I've read Robb Wolf's paleo book, but I wasn't quite convinced on his dairy argument (he basically said it's analogous to grains but didn't go much deeper than that) and was wondering where to read more about that.

9c8a6d20ee1db00a795709d6d2e2ce7a

(559)

on May 23, 2012
at 07:02 PM

So some say, and if that works for you then who am I to tell you to change that? But fruit is real food, and although there are people who will tell you to limit it, you have to see for yourself what works. The only way to know if an omelet with some fruit is a good breakfast for you is to try it for yourself! If you're still leery of that, you can always get some potatoes or sweet potatoes and butter them up (that's usually what I do). But don't follow rules just for the sake of following rules haha!

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 21, 2012
at 04:50 AM

uh oh... I grew up on powdered milk and I thought it was the best thing in the world. On the upside, I haven't had it for a long time. Now for swapping out bacon/sausage with fruit, that's not quite paleo is it? When I have brunch/breakfast I should primarily have something with a high-fat and protein content and ideally veggies with that.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 21, 2012
at 04:45 AM

Actually, fish is one of my problems with paleo. I absolutely hate fish, always did. Salmon is the only thing I could just about tolerate, but I still don't like it. On the other hand, I have found since I've been eating paleo that my taste preferences have changed quite a bit so I could try and see if I still dislike fish.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 21, 2012
at 04:41 AM

theoretically, I'm not supposed to have any heat-producing devices but I have thought about doing it (and putting them away so they're not visible; I do have a small fridge and an electric kettle)... do you have any suggestions on what I could do with these?

956bcad1d462d433a4e1e22f6e3355d5

(1191)

on May 19, 2012
at 07:28 PM

Reminds me of my first year. Had been eating soup for months (thinking I was eating healthy compared to the pizza/spaghetti/fries eaters) and then suddenly came up with the awful idea of asking the ingredients list. Almost got a heart attack. 38 ingredients, mostly things you can't pronounce correctly from the first time.

3967ae8ccdd35a794898a892271d27e7

(372)

on May 19, 2012
at 05:57 PM

yes, experiment. cycle stuff in and cycle stuff out and see how you feel

9c8a6d20ee1db00a795709d6d2e2ce7a

(559)

on May 19, 2012
at 03:27 AM

You've heard of powdered milk? Powdered eggs go through the same process. It oxidizes the cholesterol to a high degree, and we all know that's bad news. If you see them crack the eggs in front of your eyes you're alright though. As for the sausage and bacon, use your own judgement. I'm personally suspicious of the food at my school, because anything that can make sausage and bacon taste bad has to be just awful. That being said, use your own judgement, but O-6 content and other nasty things might be an issue. Worst comes to worst, swap them out for some fruit. That's usually safe.

C4ed6ba382aed2eefc18e7877999a5de

(1579)

on May 18, 2012
at 08:35 PM

Yes, the grass-fed vs. grain-fed issue is one you're probably going to have to let go until you can source your own meats. I considered the imperfections of the meal plan to be my "20%" and enjoyed thinking about the things I could improve about my diet once I could cook for myself.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 06:16 PM

Yes, I agree the main problem with the dining hall is not knowing what they use for ingredients. At least they label things with wheat as an allergen. But it's in a lot of things I didn't think it would be in: soups, meat (sauce), etc. One concern I have is grass-fed vs grain-fed meat... I guess being on the meal plan I cannot do anything about this.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 06:09 PM

I guess I'm okay with dairy since I've been eating it for so long a time. But I suppose the best thing to do would be to run my own experiment: no dairy for a month and see if there's a noticeable difference. The thing I really like about cheese is texture: adding some cheese to salads makes them so much more tasty, or when added to the burger (especially if you take the bread out)...

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 06:01 PM

Thanks! Next year, I'll be moving to an apartment so that should make it easier to control my eating environment. But this year will still have been good practice, as I can make better choices whenever I eat out.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 05:55 PM

Hi Justin, some of the concerns you listed are what worry me as well. I can never tell whether the sausage or bacon are a "processed meat" or not, so whether it is okay to eat. What do you mean by powdered stuff? I always get the whole egg omelettes, and they sometimes have it from a carton which is a bit worrying.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 05:51 PM

Thanks for the link. I've stumbled on Kurt Harris' blog as well and it was actually his Paleo 2.0 post that convinced me I can actually do a version of Paleo on campus. I hadn't read the getting started post, so thanks for that tip!

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 05:47 PM

Thanks Leigh, Mark's article on dairy was very useful to read.

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on May 17, 2012
at 08:54 PM

I agree. I think at a college hall where pizza and hot dogs rule, you are doing an amazing job at keeping as Paleo as you can.

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9 Answers

3
3351f6c8ec1ea64435e419f380ca6468

(1255)

on May 17, 2012
at 08:52 PM

Given your restricted options, it sounds like you're doing great! As regards dairy, you might want to look at Dr. Kurt Harris' blog, in particular his getting-started post and wherever he addresses what he originally termed "neolithic agents of disease". I believe his take on dairy was that it is benign unless you happen to be intolerant of elements in it.

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on May 17, 2012
at 08:54 PM

I agree. I think at a college hall where pizza and hot dogs rule, you are doing an amazing job at keeping as Paleo as you can.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 05:51 PM

Thanks for the link. I've stumbled on Kurt Harris' blog as well and it was actually his Paleo 2.0 post that convinced me I can actually do a version of Paleo on campus. I hadn't read the getting started post, so thanks for that tip!

2
9c8a6d20ee1db00a795709d6d2e2ce7a

on May 17, 2012
at 08:57 PM

I'm in the same circumstances you are, with most of my food coming from my school's dining hall. I'd say you're taking the right approach (and not just because I've ended up using similar strategies hahaha). I tend to be wary of the quality of the sausage and bacon that's served though, so make sure that's up to snuff, and it's definitely a wise idea to make sure that real eggs (and not the powdered stuff) are being used. Other than that you're golden. As for the dairy, I'd avoid the milk (it almost always gives me acne), but some of the cheeses or other things might be okay. Ultimately you're going to have to see how you react to it yourself. The Weston A. Price Foundation has a few things to say about milk, and Chris Kresser has begun a series on raw milk that's worth checking out (many people react better to raw milk, but you do have to weigh the risks versus the benefits). In the end though, dairy can be more benign than grains (and perhaps even beneficial), and it's up to you to decide if you want to consume milk, yogurt, cheese, kefir, or other dairy products.

Best of luck with being Paleo in college! It can be hard sometimes but it's worth it!

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 05:55 PM

Hi Justin, some of the concerns you listed are what worry me as well. I can never tell whether the sausage or bacon are a "processed meat" or not, so whether it is okay to eat. What do you mean by powdered stuff? I always get the whole egg omelettes, and they sometimes have it from a carton which is a bit worrying.

9c8a6d20ee1db00a795709d6d2e2ce7a

(559)

on May 19, 2012
at 03:27 AM

You've heard of powdered milk? Powdered eggs go through the same process. It oxidizes the cholesterol to a high degree, and we all know that's bad news. If you see them crack the eggs in front of your eyes you're alright though. As for the sausage and bacon, use your own judgement. I'm personally suspicious of the food at my school, because anything that can make sausage and bacon taste bad has to be just awful. That being said, use your own judgement, but O-6 content and other nasty things might be an issue. Worst comes to worst, swap them out for some fruit. That's usually safe.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 21, 2012
at 04:50 AM

uh oh... I grew up on powdered milk and I thought it was the best thing in the world. On the upside, I haven't had it for a long time. Now for swapping out bacon/sausage with fruit, that's not quite paleo is it? When I have brunch/breakfast I should primarily have something with a high-fat and protein content and ideally veggies with that.

9c8a6d20ee1db00a795709d6d2e2ce7a

(559)

on May 23, 2012
at 07:02 PM

So some say, and if that works for you then who am I to tell you to change that? But fruit is real food, and although there are people who will tell you to limit it, you have to see for yourself what works. The only way to know if an omelet with some fruit is a good breakfast for you is to try it for yourself! If you're still leery of that, you can always get some potatoes or sweet potatoes and butter them up (that's usually what I do). But don't follow rules just for the sake of following rules haha!

2
F3176aa8463fe7f416f4da0d04974c1d

(1392)

on May 17, 2012
at 08:51 PM

I've been eating Paleo in my college dining hall for over two years, and I do pretty much what you do! I go to the grill, cut up a piece of burger, and throw it in a salad, or I get eggs and veggies... As long as you're avoiding grains/gluten, legumes, sugar, and processed crap, you'll be fine.

Here's what Mark Sisson says about dairy: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dairy-intolerance/

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 05:47 PM

Thanks Leigh, Mark's article on dairy was very useful to read.

1
B04787f664abf9bebc28f71bf7825a3c

on May 20, 2012
at 01:42 PM

You say that you don't have access to a kitchen...But what about cooking equipment in your room or dorm? Are you allowed to have, say, a crock pot, or an electronic hot plate and a small frige? That would open up a world of possibilities in food preparation to you!

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 21, 2012
at 04:41 AM

theoretically, I'm not supposed to have any heat-producing devices but I have thought about doing it (and putting them away so they're not visible; I do have a small fridge and an electric kettle)... do you have any suggestions on what I could do with these?

1
956bcad1d462d433a4e1e22f6e3355d5

(1191)

on May 19, 2012
at 07:29 PM

Do you like fish? Canned sardines are one of my favorites.

And keep it up. You're doing a great job.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 21, 2012
at 04:45 AM

Actually, fish is one of my problems with paleo. I absolutely hate fish, always did. Salmon is the only thing I could just about tolerate, but I still don't like it. On the other hand, I have found since I've been eating paleo that my taste preferences have changed quite a bit so I could try and see if I still dislike fish.

1
C4ed6ba382aed2eefc18e7877999a5de

(1579)

on May 18, 2012
at 12:52 AM

Sounds like what I had to do my first year of college! I basically did the same thing you're doing. I did avoid the soups though, because there was no telling what was in them... for many of them it's very likely that they use flour or cornstarch as a thickener. My approach was basically: 1) find plain protein (grilled chicken or fish or plain beef, eggs) 2) find some fats- I do dairy, as it's hard to get enough fat calories otherwise in a dining hall, so I would find sour cream, cheese, etc.. sometimes there would be guacamole and there were always olives and nuts at the salad bar. 3) pile on the veggies- salad bar is great for that.

Whenever they had boiled eggs I would always snag a few to keep for snacks :) We also had a stir-fry station where you could request to have it steamed instead of cooked in oil, and then you'd basically be getting a pile of veggies with meat on top.

I must say though... I'm glad not to be on a meal plan anymore! Cooking for myself may be time consuming but at least I know what I'm eating!

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 06:16 PM

Yes, I agree the main problem with the dining hall is not knowing what they use for ingredients. At least they label things with wheat as an allergen. But it's in a lot of things I didn't think it would be in: soups, meat (sauce), etc. One concern I have is grass-fed vs grain-fed meat... I guess being on the meal plan I cannot do anything about this.

C4ed6ba382aed2eefc18e7877999a5de

(1579)

on May 18, 2012
at 08:35 PM

Yes, the grass-fed vs. grain-fed issue is one you're probably going to have to let go until you can source your own meats. I considered the imperfections of the meal plan to be my "20%" and enjoyed thinking about the things I could improve about my diet once I could cook for myself.

1
3967ae8ccdd35a794898a892271d27e7

(372)

on May 17, 2012
at 09:59 PM

Hi Coldsteel,

I think your diet looks fine in your situation.

You may have more latitude towards dairy if you don't have health/weight concerns.

Robb mainly suggests to stay away from it as it causes growth. This can be both good and bad. Also digestion may be affected negatively with dairy in the mix.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 06:09 PM

I guess I'm okay with dairy since I've been eating it for so long a time. But I suppose the best thing to do would be to run my own experiment: no dairy for a month and see if there's a noticeable difference. The thing I really like about cheese is texture: adding some cheese to salads makes them so much more tasty, or when added to the burger (especially if you take the bread out)...

3967ae8ccdd35a794898a892271d27e7

(372)

on May 19, 2012
at 05:57 PM

yes, experiment. cycle stuff in and cycle stuff out and see how you feel

1
7caec21ad66b572d9afcb1e24f7297aa

on May 17, 2012
at 08:56 PM

Sounds like you're doing the best you can with what you've got to work with!

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on May 18, 2012
at 06:01 PM

Thanks! Next year, I'll be moving to an apartment so that should make it easier to control my eating environment. But this year will still have been good practice, as I can make better choices whenever I eat out.

0
4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

on May 18, 2012
at 06:16 PM

Yes, I agree the main problem with the dining hall is not knowing what they use for ingredients. At least they label things with wheat as an allergen. But it's in a lot of things I didn't think it would be in: soups, meat (sauce), etc. One concern I have is grass-fed vs grain-fed meat... I guess being on the meal plan I cannot do anything about this.

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