Guilt Free Dining at the University of Maryland

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College Park has a plethora of fast food options that we crave: Five Guys, Papa Johns, Jumbo Slice, Marathon Deli, just to name a few. But we can’t spend our entire college careers eating greasy burgers with a side of seemingly unlimited fries or pizzas the size of our faces (well we can, but we shouldn’t). We’re constantly told that eating out is the enemy when it comes to weight loss, but sometimes that’s our only option. Or we just want a cheap dinner out; we can’t be expected to stay home with our mediocre home-cooked meals all the time. Eating out in College Park doesn’t have to be so unhealthy as long as you go to the right places and order well.

Chipotle

By now everyone knows their go-to order at Chipotle as well as they know that guac costs extra. What everyone doesn’t know is that Chipotle burritos can really rack up your calorie intake; a burrito alone can be over 1,000 calories. So if you’re trying to watch your weight but can’t live without this Tex-Mex restaurant, you might need to change up your order. First things first, lose the tortilla (it’s 300 calories alone) and get a salad bowl instead – feel free to add a scoop of brown rice. Do as you please as far as toppings, but avoid the sour cream and cheese. I know, I know, no cheese? But you can hardly taste it so it’s not worth the extra fat. Breaking up with your burrito may be one of the hardest things you do, but at the end of the day you can still enjoy Chipotle without consuming half of a day’s worth of calories.

Blaze

This is a challenging one because it’s, well, pizza. There are salad options, but really, who goes to Blaze for a salad? The trick here is to only eat half a pizza. Though they do sell their menu items as personal pizzas, they’re quite large and a full pie is a bit unnecessary. If you want to save even more calories, opt for the gluten-free crust. Go crazy with the veggies, and if you need a meat, make it grilled chicken. The beauty of eating only half of your pizza is having leftovers for a future meal.

Sweetgreen

Of course Sweetgreen, a place dedicated to making delicious salads, has loads of healthy options. Try not to go crazy counting calories because most of the items with a high count are healthy fats like avocado and homemade hummus. Avoid topping your salad with creamy salad dressings (like blue cheese) and bacon, but if you’re looking to munch on some veggies and actually enjoy it, Sweetgreen is your spot.

Shanghai Pavilion

There are loads of sushi places in College Park, but when asked, most people say Shanghai is the best. It’s clean, fresh and the sushi is consistently good. Just like some salads aren’t necessarily healthy, neither are some sushi rolls. When going out for sushi, try to avoid tempura, spicy mayo and sweet teriyaki sauces. Brown rice is better than white because of the added nutrients. Shanghai Pavilion also has a Weight Watchers Chinese food menu with steamed instead of pan fried vegetables. The Dynamite Rolls and General Tso’s Chicken are delicious, but as far as sushi and Chinese food goes, simpler and cleaner is always better.

Applebee’s

Applebee’s is always a fun option to go with a group of friends but it’s easy to get caught up in their spinach artichoke dip, wings, ribs, onion rings, the list can go on forever. Lucky for you, the chain has a menu that highlights healthier options (all under 600 calories). My go-to is the 2 for $20 deal with a friend. We each order an Oriental Chicken Salad with grilled chicken instead of fried and dressing on the side. The salad is topped with some crispy noodles and nuts and the Oriental vinaigrette is definitely pretty sugary, but when you’re looking at a menu filled with fried food doused in cheese, a salad is probably your best bet.

Potbelly’s

Most Terps go to Potbelly’s for its sandwiches, but it also has pretty delicious salads for those seeking some greens. Just because you’re trying to eat healthy doesn’t mean you have to miss out, either. They make SKINNYS, which are sandwiches with less meat and lower calorie bread. The “skinniest” thing you can get on this menu is the T-K-Y loaded up with  lettuce, tomatoes, hot peppers, Italian seasoning, pickles and topped with brown mustard. Who would have thought a sandwich called SKINNY would taste so good?

Plato’s Diner

The Chicken Souvlaki Salad from Plato’s Diner is worth traveling to College Park for alone. Ask for it with blackened chicken, dressing on the side and—of course— skip the pita bread. If you go to Plato’s for breakfast, an egg white omelet is a filling, but healthy option. Get your toast without butter, and I don’t have to tell you that you shouldn’t eat the hash browns.

While this may all sound daunting, you’ll love the option to go out for food without feeling the guilt later.

Karina is a senior studying Journalism and International Development at the University of Maryland, College Park. She lives in New York and loves to travel anywhere else. Anything food related will get her excited.

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