Making healthier choices eating out


By: Debbie Dang, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

As students trying to survive the brutality of the quarter system at UC Davis, we sometimes find ourselves having little time to cook during the week. This forces us to go out and buy foods that are fast and easily accessible. But how can we eat healthy AND optimize our time simultaneously, living this lifestyle? Here are 10 tips to achieve both!

  1. Check what is in the food you’re considering ordering

The first step to eating healthier is to scan the ingredients. Doing this will help you make a decision that supports your nutrition goals.  Keep choosemyplate in mind and look for entrees with a balance of grains, protein and fruits and veggies. If you can’t find one, order a side of veggies.

  1. Go with a plan

People tend to arrive at a restaurant or food joint without a plan. This increases the chance of buying impulsively. Looking at the menu ahead of time can help you decide on a healthier meal and decrease that risk of buying an extra order of fries! So, take a quick study break and peruse the online menu.

  1. Practice portion control

Restaurants will often serve two to three times more than what is considered a serving on their food label. Instead of eating that whole platter, ask the restaurant to box up half of the meal into a to-go box. Or if you’re eating with a friend, share a meal.

  1. Watch your fat intake

Many processed and restaurant foods contain saturated fat in order to increase storage life and enhance the taste and mouthfeel. Eating too many of these fats can increase your chances of coronary heart disease. Avoid eating more than 10% of your calories from saturated fats.  That would be about 22 gms per day maximum.  Sometimes this information is difficult to find at restaurants.  Beware of large quantities of fatty meats, cheese and butter.

  1. Minimize your sodium intake

Salt is used to reduce microbial growth and enhance the taste of foods, but eating too much can be detrimental to your health! A high salt intake can result in hypertension or high blood pressure. Limit your salt intake to less than 2,300 mg/day. When eating out, ask the restaurant to minimize the salt and use herbs and spices to add flavor instead!

  1. Skip the sweetened beverage

Sweetened beverages like boba milk tea or soda have a high sugar content, which can increase your risk for Type 2 Diabetes over time. Skip these sugar-laden drinks and drink water instead! If water is too bland for you, an alternative is to drink water that is infused with vegetables or fruit.  Most restaurants will provide a lemon wedge. 

  1. Substitute some items on your plate

Making simple changes by substituting foods with healthier choices can make a big difference in the long run. For example, when ordering a taco bowl at Chipotle, you can choose brown rice instead of white rice. Or instead of buying a side of fries, ask for a side of vegetables.

  1. Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets

It’s easy to fall into the temptation of all-you-can eat buffets. Eating at a buffet oftentimes invokes students to “eat their money’s worth.” But the foods at buffets are usually high in fat and salt. Overeating these foods may increase your risk for high cholesterol, hypertension, and heart disease! Take the opportunity to load up on veggies at the salad bar.

  1. Ask for sauces and dip on the side

Restaurants will often mix your salads or fries with the sauce for your convenience. Some of these sauces can make your healthy meal unhealthy! Asking for sauces on the side will help you monitor how much you use. 

  1. Practice mindful eating

It takes time for your body to send cues to your brain to tell you you’re full. Oftentimes distractions like your phone or favorite TV series may cause you to be less attentive to your body cues. This can lead to overeating. However, being mindful of your body cues will help you avoid this. To practice mindful eating, eat slowly and without distractions. Listening to how much your body actually wants will help you practice eating only until you’re full.

Try these tips the next time you go out to eat! Choosing healthier choices will be beneficial in the long run and help you take control of your life.


Get Juicy, Aggies!

By Monika Ax, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness

Whether you spent the weekend eating junk food, had a little too many drinks the night before, or simply need to get in a vegetable fix, pressed juice is a healthy, and refreshing way to satisfy your cravings. Finding the right place can be difficult, especially as a college student who can’t afford to throw down $10 or more for a light snack- and lets be honest, juices do not fill you up like a meal. I chose three popular spots in Davis to sample: The Nugget, Jamba Juice, and Sun and Soil. Specifically, I chose only green juices, so that I could select the most similar juices at each place. Through careful tasting and evaluating, I was able to find a favorite supplier that fit my college budget and taste preferences.

So here goes my honest opinion…

Nugget Market

  • Time to make: 3 ½ minutes
  • Price: $5.00
  • Verdict: The “Purifier” was recommended. It contains kale, ginger, lemon, pineapple, and cucumber. Surprisingly, I was the only customer at the time, and the juice only took a few minutes to come out. Granted, every other time I have come to Nugget to get a juice or acai bowl, it’s been busy and taken at least 10 minutes to get what I ordered. I received a 12oz plastic cup, with another 4oz cup full of the leftovers. So I got about 16oz total for only $5. The taste was overall refreshing and cleansing. It was pretty tart from the lemon, but I enjoy tart flavors and it did not bother me. There was a subtle sweetness from the pineapple, and you couldn’t taste the kale at all. After finishing the whole drink, I had that “Ah I feel so refreshed” feeling. Another plus is that all of their produce is locally sourced.  It was definitely a good juice given the price and amount.

nugget juice

Jamba Juice

  • Time to make: 4 minutes
  • Price: $5.99
  • Verdict: The juice I ordered was called “Tropical Greens” and it had apple, pineapple, super greens, and chia. It also came in a 12 oz plastic cup, but this time with no extras. I’m not sure what the “super greens” were, but they definitely gave the juice a more chalky consistency. It was blended with ice, which made it thicker than a normal juice. The apple and pineapple were more overpowering in this juice and made it a lot sweeter. It definitely did not feel very refreshing, and the sweetness and thickness made it heavier than what I was expecting from a green juice. At this point, I was wishing I had my nugget juice back.

jamba juice

Sun and Soil

  • Time to make: none, because they are already prepared
  • Price: $11.50 (but you get $2 back if you return the bottle, so technically $9.50)
  • Verdict: Now, I know that the price is almost double that of Nugget’s and Jamba Juice’s, but the juice is organic and comes in a recyclable glass bottle. I ordered the “Sweet Greens” which has apple, cucumber, spinach, filtered water, lime and ginger. The juice was very flavorful and the perfect consistency: not too watery and not too thick. It was also not as tart as the juice from the Nugget. I give this place creds for their eco-friendly reusable bottles and use of organic fruits and veggies.

So which juice would I recommend to my fellow broke college student craving a healthy fix?

I would rule Jamba Juice out of the equation. Although it was relatively cheap, I couldn’t get over the chalkiness and thickness. It was more like a melted smoothie than a juice.

Sun and soil definitely had high quality ingredients and great tasting juice, but it cost me $9.50 for 16oz, whereas at the Nugget it was only $5.  Now, if $9.50 per bottle is in your budget, I would definitely recommend Sun and Soil. But personally, the Nugget is within my price range, and perfectly satisfied my green tooth.

What is your favorite juice place?