Between managing an intense workload and a social life, many college students succumb to the convenience of fast-food dining. Students may think they are selecting healthier choices at local chains, but behind convincing titles and marketing lies a harmful mixture of high fat, cholesterol and calories.
Students often flock to this Mexican chain for burritos the size of an infant’s head and the appeal of eating something that will make them feel less guilty than a cheeseburger. Many are in for a surprise, as a tortilla alone has 300 calories and 690 milligrams of sodium. A chicken burrito made with white rice, black beans and tomato salsa has 835 calories, 2155 milligrams of sodium and 22 grams of fat. Add sour cream and cheese and these numbers jump to 1050 calories, 2375 milligram of sodium and almost 40 grams of fat. Keep in mind these figures assume your server diligently sticks to the restaurant’s serving sizes. However, as a former employee myself, I can say this is rarely accomplished, as customers quickly complain of being “skimped” when servers stick to each item’s recommended portion. To combat the disastrous caloric content, students should stick to salads, dodging the beans and rice, or request that employees give them smaller portions when ordering.
This noodle chain, conveniently located on Route 1, is a hot dining spot among students. However, this chain’s worst culprits are some of its most popular items. A regular portion of the Wisconsin Mac and cheese adds up to 1100 calories, 1310 milligrams of sodium and 47 grams of fat. A regular pad thai, a favorite amongst vegetarians, also clocks in 1100 calories, but brings in a shocking 1930 milligrams of sodium and 44 grams of fat. Thinking about having a salad? Stay away from the Napa market salad with chicken, as it’s unimpressive nutritional value contains 800 milligrams of sodium and 38 grams of fat. Most of the sandwiches and soups surprisingly have similar, or better, nutritional value than the salads offered. The Med sandwich is probably a meat-eating dieter’s best bet, totaling only 350 calories, 750 milligrams of sodium and 13 grams of fat. If you want to enjoy this chain’s pastas and noodles, opt for the small portions of each menu’s item.
A restaurant in Stamp Student Union provides a gateway to the Freshman 15. A combo featuring kung pao chicken as an entree with chow mein and fried rice as sides totals 1320 calories, 2800 milligrams of sodium and 57 grams of fat. An entree of orange chicken with chow fun and fried rice as sides isn’t much better, bringing in1310 calories, 2580 milligrams of sodium and 43 grams of fat. To avoid the catastrophic nutritional value, select vegetables and steamed rice as sides. A decent combo for those who are watching their waistlines is the grilled teriyaki chicken, with mixed vegetables and steamed white rice as sides. This combo adds up to 760 calories, 1070 milligrams of sodium and 13.5 grams of fat.
While it’s no secret that Chick-fil-A offers unhealthy options, their breakfast menu often goes overlooked. Order the sausage platter of eggs, sausage and a biscuit and you’re starting your day with 810 calories, 1850 milligrams of sodium and 54 grams of fat. Restaurant goers should consider the Greek yogurt parfait with granola instead, which contains 230 calories, 85 milligrams of sodium and only 9 grams of fat. If you’re looking for something more filling, order the egg white grill — a grilled chicken and egg white cheese melt on a multigrain English muffin — totaling only 300 calories, 970 milligrams of sodium and 7 grams of fat.