How to Clean Eat on Campus: FSU

By Lexie Pitzen

(Pictured: Vale Food Co. | Photo: Lexie Pitzen)

Before I started my first year of college at Florida State University, I ate a clean diet, drank sixty ounces of water a day, and went for a run nearly every day. I valued my healthy lifestyle and I didn’t want college life to corrode the wholesome habits I had spent years polishing. I envisioned myself assembling nutritious meals at Suwannee Dining Hall and visiting the Leach Gym daily, my ideal-college-self exuding the glow that comes from living and loving a healthy life.

The reality of college life tackled me sometime in my first semester. Suddenly, it was unreasonably difficult to find healthy dining hall foods or squeeze gym time into my schedule. In a hurricane of freshman year chaos, I lived off of peanut butter bagels from Einstein Bro’s Bagels and continual caffeine flow. By spring, however, I settled into new healthy habits within the messy, unpredictable college lifestyle. I picked up tips for healthy dining hall eating and learned the most nutritious restaurants in Tallahassee— valuable information for any incoming or currently-enrolled student at FSU. Here’s what I did.

Healthy Dining Hall Habits

Suwannee is FSU’s main dining hall visited mostly by students with meal plans. After Chef Gordon Ramsay ripped into Suwannee’s pork loin last semester (“Shut it down!”), the dining hall’s reputation took a hit, but the its healthier options deserve another chance. The best Suwannee strategy is stocking up on fresh fruits and vegetables first. For an entrée, try a wrap from the deli station or a veggie burger from the grill. Grab extra fruit on the way out for a snack later in the day.

On-Campus Restaurants

Many of FSU’s on-campus restaurants accept a meal plan swipe, FSUCash, and other payment methods. Nearly every restaurant serves at least one health-conscious dish, but healthy eating is most effortless at natural!, a smoothie bar conveniently located inside the Leach, and Subway. Still, certain choices like Einstein’s Bro’s Bagels’ wheat bagel with avocado and Pollo Tropical’s grilled chicken bowl are fairly nutritious. And, in both Strozier Library and Dirac Science Library, Starbucks offers healthier options like oatmeal, protein boxes, and sandwiches in addition to coffee.

Off-Campus Options

Within walking distance of FSU, many Tallahassee restaurants serve healthy meals. Health-focused Vale Food Co, located in CollegeTown, is known for its protein and açaí bowls. Nearby, The Good Berry offers açaí with a bigger collection of bases and toppings. Lesser known, The Bark serves a variety of creative vegan and vegetarian foods—think vegan Cajun hollandaise, a squash melt sandwich, and mango jerk curry—in an artistic venue near Railroad Square.

To prepare for the fall semester, consider adding some of these dining options to your bucket list or health plan. It’s quite possible to eat healthily at FSU; you just have to cut around a jungle of fried chicken, mac’n’cheese burgers, and frappuccinos.

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