For students with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a good cafeteria plays a part in staying healthy at college. Learn what to look for in terms of nutrition when choosing a school.
Do Your Homework
While researching colleges, pay close attention to the cafeteria in the dorm. If possible, eat there during a visit to the school. Students will want to look for a wide variety of foods that they can choose from during a flare-up and during remission. Many cafeterias now offer suitable choices to fit a myriad of student lifestyles and health conditions.
For students already enrolled in school, use the points below to take stock of the cafeteria and learn what foods to look for.
While learning the ins and outs of the cafe, don't be afraid to ask the staff questions. Need low-fat mayo, bread without seeds, or sherbet instead of ice cream? Ask someone before eating something that's may cause you discomfort.
Hot EntreesLook for low-fat entrees, and stay away from fried foods and foods smothered in cheese. Baked poultry and meats are usually good choices. Students with IBD will want to be choosy about the hot vegetables and stick with those that their bodies can handle. Vegetables that can cause gas include:
Salad BarFor people with IBD, the choices at the salad bar can be tricky. Thankfully, salad bars today typically have much more than lettuce and carrots. Look for canned fruits (peaches, pears), fresh bananas, gelatin, breads without seeds and nuts, and other items suitable for a restricted fiber diet.
BeveragesWhen people think of beverages in college they often think of coffee and caffeinated drinks -- neither of which are appropriate for students with IBD. Caffeine has a laxative effect, so that's probably not desirable when diarrhea is already a problem. Instead, look for a selection of herbal or decaffeinated teas, fruit juices or sports drinks, and the old standby -- water. Check with the housing department regarding the water available in the dorm. Students may want to filter their water with a portable water filter.
AmbianceOnce youâ€™ve gotten an idea if the food is healthful or not, take a look around the dining area. Is it a pleasant place to eat? Can you see yourself eating relaxing meals there every day? Or are you completely turned off to the experience? Eating and nutrition is an important part of taking care of your body, so where and when you eat is as important as what you eat.
When The Cafeteria Isnâ€™t Up to Par
If a student has their heart set on going to a particular college, but the cafe is sorely lacking, it may be a good idea to talk to the school's housing department. The housing department is there to serve their customers -- the students! Housing departments are focused on what their customers need and may be able to help with meal plans or add specific items to the daily menu.