Students consider campus food unhealthy. However, students may need guidance on what food to order. If you are at a restaurant that you do not consider healthy, explore the menu. Start looking up the calories of what you often eat because the number could surprise you. For example, Panda Express can promote unhealthy habits like overeating, and high calorie and sodium consumption. On the other hand, there are entrée options that, if eaten in the right portions, are healthy. One meal plan on campus consists of a Panda Bowl, which follows the FDA-recommended 2000 calorie-per-day-diet.
When ordering, after you choose the portion, you choose the side dish to your meal. According to the Panda Express Meal Builder, these sides include 380-420-calorie white or brown steamed rice, 470-calorie fried rice , 490-calorie Chow Mein or 70-calorie mixed vegetables. Next, you choose an entrée. These entrées range from the 690 calorie Beijing Beef to the 35 calorie mixed vegetables. Without thought, you can easily choose a meal that is half the calories you should consume in a day. An orange chicken bowl with fried rice has 690mg of sodium, and takes up 890 of your recommended 2000 calories. On the other hand, healthy entrees at Panda Express include the 160-calorie beef and broccoli, 180-calorie mushroom chicken, 170-calorie peppercorn shrimp and 200-calorie black pepper chicken. These meals can turn into many “empty” calories, with no nutritional value, or it can turn into a highly nutritious meal.
The food choices you make at Panda Express apply to the choices you make at other restaurants. If you are unsure about the calories in a certain dish, look them up beforehand. You can turn “unhealthy” restaurants into a healthy meal by ordering the right things. If you do order a high calorie dish at Panda Express, or anywhere else, do not make it an everyday habit. If you make healthy choices at a restaurant, it will make you feel better about your health, which will lead to even more healthy choices.
Website for counting calories: Nutritionix