Bar Method: Calories Burned During Class

by Sarah on September 26, 2012 · 66 comments

I love The Bar Method but have been curious as to how many calories a class actually burns since I started going regularly. After two months of being on hold, my Bar Method membership started back up again on Monday and I was equipped with a new heart rate monitor. I was eager to see what the calorie burn was going to be.

Bar Method Boston

My new apartment is about a mile from class so I jogged over slowly. During the class, I kept an eye on my heart rate (hr). Most of the time it was around the “fat burning” zone. During the standing glute series, my hr hovered around 140 bpm (72% of my max hr). In the end, I burned a total of 519 calories including my 1 mile slow jog, 1 hour of Bar, and a walk-jog home. If you want to try The Bar Method in Boston for $10, just use my promo code SarahFit1 (it’s 50% off). You can try 1 month unlimited like me too for $100 use SarahFit2 (it’s 20% off the website listing price). Get the coupon directions here. 

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I was shocked at how high this number was! During The Bar Method, you don’t really sweat all that much which creates this illusion that you are not burning a ton of calories despite shaking legs and maxing out most muscle groups. After my month unlimited in July, I stopped my regular strength training and gave my body a little break. I kept up with my cardio and the occasional Nike Training Club workout and lost 5 lbs. I also didn’t have my own apartment and was terribly stressed.

It makes no sense to me but hey, it happened. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the lifestyle change, or the fact that I was “in the fat burning zone” during most of my bar classes and lost body fat unknowingly.

After class, I dug into my ExpoEast goodies and decided on a Vega Energizing Smoothie is Tropical Tango. I added 1 cup of almond milk, 4 ice cubes and 1/2 a banana. It tasted great but I was still a little hungry so I had a handful of almonds as well.

Vega Energizing Smoothie

The Vega products are my favorite line when it comes to supplements, protein powder and workout supplements. They are 100% vegan, dairy, gluten and soy free. Best of all, they use stevia to sweeten! While I do not follow any specific diet other than attempting to eat clean, it’s nice to know that even the healthiest products do taste good!

**POLL & opportunity to get a goodie bag filled with healthy goodies!**

I need you help. I’d doing a survey of what schools do the best job when it comes to offering students healthy alternatives at the dining hall. If you are a college student or recent grad, I’d love to hear what your school did or did not offer when it comes to healthier options.

As an incentive, I am going to randomly choose a response to receive an awesome package of cookbooks, healthy books, dvds and workout clothing/accessories like tops and bags. Basically I have an overflow at the new apartment and am giving it away.


{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephanie September 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Though I can’t really consider myself a recent grad anymore (I am 5 years out of college), when I was at Georgetown they had recently opened a new dining facility that had some healthier options. They had grab and go salads and sandwiches or wraps, and if you went into the dining hall to eat there was an extensive salad bar with all kinds of veggies (plus the usual unhealthy stuff) and a lot of different dressing options, including plain bottled oil and vinegar. There was also a wok station where you could stir fry veggies, noodles, etc. No meat was allowed in the woks, and unfortunately, they did not offer anything gluten free when I was there but that may have changed. They may have offered both white and whole wheat pasta but I can’t remember. Regardless, you could always get a plate of pasta with meatless marinara (sometimes they would also offer alfredo, meat marinara, or pesto sauce) and other typical unhealthy stuff like pizza, burgers, fries, etc.. They usually had some kind of whole wheat bread for sandwiches (among other choices) and typically offered some kind of hot vegetarian entree that looked suspect to me (which I never tried because I do eat meat). The build your own salad and sandwich bar was always open, though, so it was possible to make creative big salads and different types of sandwiches with deli meat and greens, and you could control how much or how little of everything went into your sandwich.

Not sure if any current Georgetown students read here, but I hope some chime in with things that I may have missed or have changed since my graduation year! Thank you Sarah for posting so much helpful information on the blog and for such a great giveaway!


2 Lizzie September 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I graduated from Georgetown 2 years ago, and this sounds pretty similar to my experience with the dining hall, except that they also had a “lighter section” of food – i.e. more veggies and whole grains, and a few vegetarian/vegan options. However, it still seemed to all be cooked in a bunch of oil. I really didn’t like our dining hall because it just all felt so heavy.

There was a big salad bar, as Stephanie said, but it didn’t have much creative stuff, just the typical salad bar stuff, so it got kind of boring to me. One thing that I loved was that at breakfast they had yogurt and granola and plain oatmeal that you could fix however you liked it.


3 Stevi September 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I am a little off from being a recent grad, but I’d say 3 years is still close enough to rembemer and accurately judge the food situation. I went to the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon and I was pleasantly surprised with the wonderful healthy options we had! We had several little cafe type stands though out campus that had a great variety of food, some healthy, others not so much. One of my favorite options was Holy Cow Cafe, which had an amazing salad bar, hot food and easy to grab snacks that were all healthy, clean and in most cases vegan. I think the U of O is unique in the fact that they are very careful to cater to more alternative diets such as vegan, raw food and gluten free. I have to say I loved it, I was always able to find something on the healthy side even if I was just running into a little convience store on campus!


4 Erica @ In And Around Town September 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm

That is quite a few calories burned! So good to know because sometimes it doesn’t seem like you could burn that many in bar method!


5 Sarah September 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I was really surprised myself. I think at least 150 is from running to and from class. but still – 300 for an hour class that you don’t sweat isn’t bad. Since you work the muscles too there is an afterburn effect.


6 Shannon September 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Our dining hall had a great salad bar that was always well stocked with fresh veggies, etc. so you could make yourself a great salad, any time of day. The rest of the stations were a good mix of healthy options and what I would consider junk food. That would include grilled chicken at one station, pizza at another. I liked that I could always get fresh grilled chicken and hot veggies, or make myself a salad and throw some grilled chicken on top, or add hard boiled eggs. Breakfast was the same – you could choose from omelets (with egg whites, if you wanted), or french toast/pancakes, etc. I liked that I could be healthy if I wanted, or have a cheat day.


7 Kristi September 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm

The University of Minnesota had an awesome program where they had made-to-order featured entrees with grilled meats, fresh veggies, a starch of some sort, and sauce options. You could pick whatever ingredients you wanted, and they made it in front of you. It was an easy way to customize an entree to your dietary preference while still getting a delicious, satisfying meal (especially for “cafeteria” food).


8 Kaitlin September 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I went to a small, liberal arts college in Maryland (St. Mary’s College) that was very health and environmental conscious. I actually became a pescatarian while I was there and had NO problem with meals for my entire four years of eating in the dining hall. The main dining hall always had a freshly stocked salad bar, with some of the veggies coming straight from the campus farm down the road. Students actually go to the farm and pick the veggies that end up in the salad bar. That was probably the best thing that St. Mary’s did in terms of health. Not only did you get the healthy veggies, but you knew EXACTLY where they were coming from. Also, there were a lot of vegetarians at the school, so the vegetarian section of the dining hall was well-equipped and the chefs were always trying new and unique recipes (there was a comment/suggestion drop=box in the dining hall, and the chefs ALWAYS took the students’ comments into consideration). Finally, the dining hall used labels by each food item that stated what it was, what diets (i.e. gluten free or vegetarian) it was suitable for, and, sometimes, even where it came from! I felt VERY lucky to have such a healthy and delicious dining hall for my college experience. They really put great effort into ensuring that the students were able to make healthy choices on a daily basis. This probably has a lot to do with the small size of the school (less than 2,000).


9 Rachel September 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm

When I was at Augustana I loved the salad bar, it was always stocked with fresh veggies, some even came from a garden on campus. Also, there was a farmer’s market a few times a year on campus featuring local farmers. Sometimes it’s hard to get off campus if you don’t have a car to get fresh vegetables and fruits so i always thought this was an awesome and convenient opportunity for students and faculty.


10 Kyle September 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm

I’m a current junior at Gettysburg College, and I can’t even tell you how amazing our food is. Over the last two years, I’ve lost 20 pounds and have made hugely positive health changes. All of our foods are fresh, including meat, dairy and produce (most of which is local). We grow all the herbs we use on campus in the community garden. The kitchen is completely open, so if we have questions about food preperation or ingredients, we can just walk back and talk to the chef. All of our meals are constructed using really healthy and diverse ingredients (lobster, quinoa, beets etc). The dining staff goes to great lengths making sure that our food is delicious and good for us. The menu is color coded for vegans and vegetarians, and all GF and dairy free foods are labeled and kept seperate.

I’m honestly worried about not having access to such a healthy option when I graduate…


11 Kim September 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Hey Sarah!
THanks for directing to this post :)
Keene State College has a great dining hall managed by the nutrition program. Menus include nutrition info & serving size. There were so many options and I was never disappointed! They made sure to suit everyone’s need and the dining hall even included a vegan station and a gluten free area!


12 Lauren September 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I went to Towson (years ago) and they did a pretty awful job at offering healthy options or ones that catered to different diets and lifestyles. Hopefully that has changed now but I distinctly remember 24 hour pizza and fro-yo and the waffle maker being a huge hit! We also had Chic-Fillet on campus so I guess that was their “healthy” alternative.


13 Alaina September 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I recently graduate nursing school in May and we had a popcorn machine and two vending machines. The healthiest thing I found in the vending machines was a bag of beef jerky. I was extremely disappointed and burnt out on jerky! :)


14 Sara Lang September 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I went to Macalester (a small liberal arts college in Minnesota) and graduated about five years ago, so not super recent but I definitely remember the food! Mac is a school where most everyone is vegetarian, with many vegans and many people who ate local foods (100 mile diet). Our cafeteria was great – everything was labeled (whether it was gluten free, veg, vegan, etc) and we had food from a variety of cuisines to choose from. The salad bar was great, and we had a fro-yo machine (which, let’s be honest, was my favorite part).

The great thing about Mac and the twin cities in general is that it’s very easy to get locally grown food from farmer’s markets and the local supermarkets, even on a college student’s budget. I remember days of buying a GIANT bag of basil for just $1, along with all of my other groceries for a week for $20 or less. I miss the St Paul market so much!


15 Krystina September 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I went to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA and graduated in 2008. We had amazing food and a ton of options. The first few weeks of Freshmen Year, I went a little crazy with the Mac and Cheese, corn bread, and other unhealthy food options. However, once I discovered that every dining hall had a list of nutrition facts online, I quickly changed my habits. Most of JMU’s dining halls were an a la carte style, where you pick different options to make a meal and that’s what you get. There was one all you can eat cafeteria, which I quickly became my arch nemesis (I always left there feeling overly full because I’m the person that feels the need to try everything at a buffet). I avoided that dining hall for the most part and found a ton of healthy options at all of the other dining halls. They had salad bars, lots of fresh fruit, plenty of vegetable options, low fat/fat free frozen yogurt, chicken breast, egg white options, etc. I actually ended up losing weight my Freshmen Year instead of gaining the Freshmen 15. I actually find myself missing the food at JMU. It was delish!


16 Kim September 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I graduated from Virginia tech 4 years ago (insert super sad face) and I worked at one of their dining halls. They did an amazing job trying to supply healthy options for students and faculty. I mean there had to be a reason our dining halls were rated #1 while I was there. Since many of our dining halls were food court style, you were allowed to customize your orders to your liking. We had salad stations with pre-configured salads, salad bars with a TON of fresh vegetables/fruits (cut daily), and vegetarian/vegan options. If you wanted a sandwich, you could pick and choose what you wanted (or make yourself). Besides the chain franchised stations (pizza hut, Chickfila, ABP), very little food was ever pre-made and frozen. We cooked fresh turkeys daily for carved turkey sandwiches an smoked pounds and pounds of pork for pulled pork.


17 Kate September 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I’m 5 years out of my undergrad, but when I was going to Acadia University (Canada), the healthy options were slim to none. Sure there was a salad bar, surrounded by pizza, burgers, fajitas, etc. They always had a lacto-ovo vegetarian option which usually ended up being less healthy than the regular dinner options (i.e., they’d load it up with so much sour cream/cheese, whatever to “make up” for the lack of meat), so it was disapointing and difficult to stay healthy on a meal plan when living on campus. Things got much better once I moved off campus.

However, I heard shortly after I left they made a TON of changes to the meal hall offerings, more healthy options being one of the major changes.


18 Lisa September 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I was lucky enough to have a cafeteria with salad bars, soups, nonfat frozen yogurt, and even gluten free options! All calorie counts were posted to! I think it’s so important for college students to develop lifelong healthy habits and learn how nutritious foods can not only be tasty but aid you in your education!!


19 Lisa September 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Oops! I went to quinnipiac university!


20 Catrina Lankenau September 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2010. They had some healthy offerings, but not as many as one would hope at a school in NYC and that was centered around fashion and being slim! They had a sandwich station in the cafeteria that was almost like subway- different cold cuts and veggies and breads, there was a home cooked station which normally never had anything too healthy it was pastas and comfort food, a pizza station which didn’t offer anything good, sushi station – this did have some with brown rice, a cold stone station!! BAD!! lol They did have a salad station though that was pretty great veggies and meats and cheeses and oils and vinegars etc. There was also a quick “on the go” grab station with pre made fruit cups and salads and pretzel cups and hummus and pre wrapped sandwiches etc. So if you were educated enough you could put together something good for you but this would probably have you eating salads every meal! Hope this helps :)


21 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution September 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm

When I first started college, the options were awful — some soggy iceberg lettuce and a limited amount of fruit. Blech. But in my junior year, they opened a new dining hall with a really great salad bar — stocked to the brim with different greens, toppings, etc. It was great! However, you still need to be careful. They would prepare the salad for you, and if you got the dressing on the salad they would put way too much on. And there were tons of high-fat options that made it easy to make your salad a calorie bomb. Also, there are still all the crazy terrible choices, and if you don’t know how to eat properly and healthily, it’s hard!


22 Tarren Roberts September 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm

My cafeteria at Arkansas Tech University offered several healthy options, if you just knew where to look! The salad bar had tons of different veggies, along with low fat raspberry vinaigrette and just plain balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The sandwich bar had whole grain/whole wheat bread options and you made the sandwich yourself so you could just stick to turkey, bread, mustard, and veggies to keep it healthy. For lunch everyday they also had a stir fry or wrap option. On stir fry days, you got to choose what went in it and there were always veggies, spices, and chicken available. Wrap days could be considered healthy because they would offer spinach tortillas & you could just say skip the dressing!


23 Kayla M. September 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I just graduated from Cornell University and I have to say their dining hall options were amazing. There were many different places to eat that had a variety of options. Of course the usual fatty, greasy, college foods were easy to find around campus, but there were great, healthy options as well! I could always find something healthy and filling when I was on campus. There were salads at each eatery. They also had quick hummus, fruit, or veggies to grab between classes. Cornell is also great about having multiple vegetarian options around campus. They are very environmentally conscious, and try to source locally grown fruits, vegetables, as well as obtain local beef, chicken, and pork. Many of the fruits and veggies are grown right on campus in the orchards or greenhouses. I love that they are focused on having healthy, whole food options, as well as having minimal impacts on the environment.


24 Corey Duysen September 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm

They started labeling restaurants with a seal of approval for healthy foods, but they were not great about telling you what entries were “healthy.” At the school where I am currently working on my doctorate, they actually have a restaurant/grab-n-go foods that are all extremely healthy – salads, plain baked potatoes, wheat bread as an option. It is pretty easy to identify the other places on campus that carry these same health options!


25 Laura September 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I went to SUNY Fredonia, and I’ve heard for years that their food is getting better and better! They are known as a vegetarian-friendly school! Also, I did some research at Bard, and Bard has a HIGH population of vegans! Lots of excellent vegan choices there!


26 Sonia Gawel September 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm

I went to a small university in Indianapolis- Butler University. The food selection was miserable when I first started as an undergrad but when I graduated with my graduate degree in December things had gotten a lot better. Over the 7 years I spent there, the cafeteria didn’t change much- greasy pizzas, pastas, and “home cooked” meal options were available. There was a Taco Bell and Papa Johns when I started as well as a Starbucks. The Taco Bell is not longer there but the entire dining hall is still pretty much the same. No consideration for food allergies or dietary preferences. When they school built a new fitness facility my Junior year, they did add a juice bar that was a better option but it still has a way to go. Sad. :(


27 Sarah October 2, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Congrats Sonia! You won the giveaway. Please send me an email with your address to!


28 Amy September 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm

I went to ASU a couple years back, so that still makes me a recent grad right? :) Anyways, the campus that I went to was the Polytechnic campus which was were all the nutrition students went which I was one of them. I went through the dining hall a few times in hopes of trying to find something good and healthy. They had the usual grill with pizza and burgers, but they also had sub sandwiches and a salad bar, they also had a smoothie bar as well.


29 McKenzie September 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm

I am a freshman at a small private college in Atchison, Kansas. We don’t have good cafeteria food because everything is covered in butter it seems like. We do have a really good salad bar/wrap area where we have a wide variety of fresh fruits, all types of lettuce, meats, beans, veggies, nuts etc. that we can eat. We have a grab and go at lunch time where students can have a salad or sandwhich and chips or a fruit-which i like. I wish they served ethnic food, or quinoa or something hot becuase i end up eating lots of salad.


30 Traci September 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I am a recent graduate from Louisiana State University. I did not stay on campus so I did not eat regularly at the dining halls, but I know my school offered healthy options such as a salad bar for lunch and dinner. They also have stir fry stations with different vegetables that can be added. In our student union we have a Jamba Juice that served smoothies and breakfast bowls. Each item showed the nutrition facts. There was also a salad bar in the union where you could add lean meat such as chicken and any vegetables you would like. They also have low fat dressing options. Subway is also located on campus to provide a non greasy fast food option. It is very easy to find a healthy option to fit into your diet at this school.


31 Hailee September 26, 2012 at 7:07 pm

I am currently a freshman at Texas Christian University. At home I ate very healthy, my mom always kept the fridge and pantry stocked with a variety of fruits and veggies. I was worried about coming to college and only have options of pizza, pasta, hamburgers, etc. When I got here, I was pleasantly surprised! In the mornings they have an omlette bar, you have assorted veggies and meats to add to your omlette as well as the choice between shelled eggs or egg whites. I usally opt for veggies and egg whites:) They have a salad bar open all day long. It is always stocked with romaine and spinach, the additional options are limitless for on top. They used to only have ranch, caesar, italian and balsamic dressing, but now they offer oil and vinegar! Also, they have a vegan/vegetarian option with hummus, pita, and some kind of tofu. We have a smoothie bar as well, with your choice of frozen fruit, juice and yogurt. I usually head straight there after workout and just bring a packet of Perfect Fit Protein with me and have them throw it in my smoothie. Of course, they have pizza, a dessert table, and a frozen yogurt machine, but the majority of the options are very healthy and you just have to get creative:) I love the cafeteria at my school, it makes it easy for me to make healthy choices. The people there are also very accommodating for those that are gluten-free. At the sandwich station, they have gluten-free bread. It also helps that we have no fast-food chains on campus, it is all made there which is nice!


32 Christine September 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I graduated from University of Maryland and I remember them having quite the variety of both healthy and non-healthy options. They did have a nice long salad bar which was great and then also a sandwich place where you could pick and choose all your own toppings and such. They also had a food court in the middle of campus which was basically a bunch of fast food places/not so healthy options. I think the dining halls had some decent choices though.


33 Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots September 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm

My school always had a salad bar the was full of stuff. They also had a small station that they called the “healthy” station and they would have some sort of meat and carb like quinoa or couscous or brown rice. I am not entirely sure how healthy it was but I liked they had that option but would have enjoyed more options. My school was small so I could see why they kept it minimal.


34 Tracey September 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm

I am currently a Nutrition student at San Jose State University. This is my 3rd year and my first two years I lived on campus. At my university in the dining commons, they have 2 salad stations and a fruit area for fruits that can be eaten inside the dining commons or foods that can be taken to go. The dining commons also showed the amount of calories in certain foods such as the cookies and french fries to help students to take less of a certain food item. Also, around campus at certain food places they offer healthy selections, such as sandwiches, salads, and sushi.

My university has a Nutrition Education Action Team which I am a part of that educates other students about the importance of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, portion sizes, reading nutrition labeling, and healthy options around campus.


35 Denyne September 26, 2012 at 7:51 pm

My school always had a salad bar. Lots of fruit was also available to purchase. What needs to be improved are the vending machines for night classes. Plenty of healthier options should go in them.


36 Nicole F. September 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm

American University in Washington D.C., voted most Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-free friendly, recently revamped their dining hall emphasizing all locally grown food and organics. It’s honestly amazing and the only reason I bought a meal plan this year! Think quinoa salads, homemade hummus, kale salads with tahini, and that’s all in addition to a fully-stocked salad bar, soups, sandwich area, gluten-free section, and the hot meals station.


37 Amy September 26, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I wanted to let you know that I recently found/discovered your Blog. Wonderful Blog…and by-the-way, I really can relate A LOT with your story and experiences in many ways. I like the posts you talk about with regards to fitness. As for me, currently, I’ve currently really been into roller-blading, tennis, hiking and doing classes at Gold’s Gym like Zumba, Step, Pump and Jam. However, lately I’ve been seriously thinking about doing some weight training to build my arms up as they are a bit too scrawny and I’d like them stronger.

I recently began my own Blog…so I’m all new to this. Do you mind “sharing” with some of your readers my site to draw more people over there? I’d really appreciate it, if you could. Thank you! It’s found at:



38 Sarah September 26, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Hi Amy and welcome :) I LOVE what a little weight can do for “scrawny” arms. You do not need a lot to see results. I’d recommend starting out with 3lb weights and trying my Bachelorette Arm workout! It will tone and define your arms. Strength training is great too. I love body pump if you are new and want guided classes.


39 Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut September 26, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Whoa, nice calorie burn! Love barre classes. Unfortunately, I am not a recent grad. The cafeterias at Clemson had a decent salad bar, but the homemade pizza and pasta stations always got me in trouble!


40 Abby September 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm

My school (Berry College) does an awesome job of providing healthy meats! For example, we’ll have tacos or something like that, but the school uses lean turkey instead of beef. Easy and delicious. We also have a farmer’s market on campus every couple of weeks that lets local farmers show us what they have so we can sample, buy, etc.


41 Sarah October 2, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Abby! Congrats. YOu won my random giveaway. Please send me your address so I can send you your goodies!


42 Tara September 26, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I am a few years out of undergrad at West Chester University of PA and while I was there I saw them make some changes for the better. The main dining hall always had a salad bar option which made things easy in a hurry but for entrees there wasn’t too many healthy options. My later years in school they started putting more grab and go style sandwiches and salads in which I think was really needed. The major downfall was that I was a health science major and there was no food on our south campus. I know they have fixed this but it was after I graduated.


43 Emily September 26, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I recently graduated from the University of New Hampshire and am very familiar with all of our wonderful offerings as a graduate of the nutrition program. Our dining hall has a full time registered dietitian on staff and we use the Guiding Stars for all food items, making it easy for students to determine the health of each food. In addition, there is nutrition analysis available on all recipes on the website with the daily menus. Brochures, resources, counseling appointments, and nutrition outreach is also offered. There is a whole section of vegan/vegetarian options, salad and fruit bars, a yogurt/granola bar (local – stonyfield & grandyoats). Fair trade, local ingredients, free range eggs, and composting is just a few of the environmentally friendly initiatives. I’m sure I missed a ton of stuff.. but overall an amazing dining hall!


44 Maria Amato September 26, 2012 at 10:28 pm

So glad I discovered your blog! I really love so many of your recipe ideas. Just recently made your blueberry protein muffins which I have been eating for breakfast after my 6:00 am Bar Method Class. Question- should I be eating anything before class? If yes, any ideas I could eat about a half hour before if needed? It takes me about a half hour to commute to Bar, so it would have to be eaten in the car.


45 Lexi September 26, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I am a recent college grad but during my last two years of school i lived in an on campus apartment that had a full kitchen and therefore did not have to rely on the dining hall. When i was regularly eating there they did a very good job at providing healthier options. There was a fully stocked salad bar where you were able to serve yourself and take as much veggies as you wanted as well as healthier dressing options. For breakfast, fresh fruit was always available, oatmeal, whole grain breads and cereals, yogurt and an omelete bar where egg whites and all sorts of healthy add ins were optional. They also added 3 large water dispensers where the water was infused with lemons, oranges, strawberries and cucumbers. I feel that all schools, (elementary, middle, high school and colleges), are making conscious efforts to make real, wholesome foods available.


46 Liisa September 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Hi Sarah! Love your blog. I just graduated from Emerson College in Boston in December, so I’m usually familiar with most of your Boston landmarks! For a small school, Emerson did a pretty good job offering healthy food to students. The cafe’s on campus tended to serve fattier, carbier dishes (think meaty panini and oodles of mac and cheese), but the dining hall offered some healthier choices, and a to-go option. Our salad bar had several different types of lettuce, including fresh spinach. Sliced peppers, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and various other veggies occupied the same area, and as a student moved down the salad bar they could add prepared items like pesto orzo, black bean and corn salsa, pickled beets, hummus (actually quite good), tabouli, pasta salad, tuna, and the like. Fruit and yogurt too! Oh, and two choices of soup – one was often ratatouille, which was a nice vegetarian option. Aside from the salad bar, there was a daily offering that tended to be less healthy (mashed potatoes with some kind of meat and a veggie cooked to death); there was also a sandwich station for building subs and wraps, and which did offer some nice veggies and leaner meat options. Emerson’s dining hall also had a vegan station, which usually offered stir-fry or soup or a dish with quinoa and veggies. My favorite thing here, however, were the vegan nuggets! Great with hot mustard. Of course we had a dessert section with the usual baked goodies (cake, cookies, brownies), which were all wonderful, but the school also offered frozen yogurt in two flavors. Finally, of course, there was a selection of coffees and teas. Emerson also did a great job labeling foods with allergy info, gluten info, and meat info. It seems like no one really loves dining hall food when they are exposed to the experience every day, but once it’s no longer a part of life, one can get nostalgic for the variety! It is fantastic when schools incorporate healthy choices in their dining halls, because it helps steer students toward a healthy lifestyle, but still lets them enjoy the occasional junk food indulgence, which is a fun part of college life.


47 Shelby September 26, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I recently graduated from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA and I think my school did a pretty good job of helping students make healthy choices. One of my favorite things they did was once a year they would hold a farmers market on campus with a bunch of local produce farmers and students could come down and buy fresh produce right on campus.

They also have this group called the Wellness Program that put on events like the farmers market and others to bring awareness to living well. It didn’t just include food either. They held yoga classes in a park on campus once a month and held events that promoted safe sex as well. They have a facebook page that constantly posts statuses with tips on living well.


48 Alicia September 27, 2012 at 12:53 am

I went to Rollins College (Winter Park, FL) and graduated a couple of years ago. While I was there the food was not really all that great, we had some healthy options but when they were right next to endless amounts of junk food, it was really hard to make the right choices.

Things were getting better towards my last year though, they started introducing better options as the featured entrees (I think they got a new head chef), and they started to introduce smoothies into the cafes and things like that. I just wish that they had made the healthier options as cheap as the junk food, because that was often a consideration. You could request specific types of food like gluten free or whatever you needed (and they pretty much tried their best because meal plans were not optional) but then they charged you a lot more for it.

If you were attempted to eat better it was possible, but it took a lot of self control and you had to work your schedule around the main cafeteria hours instead of eating at whatever was at the cafe you were closest to. I eventually learned that I could ask them to prepare things to my taste (like less sugary syrup in a flavored coffee drink or less dressing and cheese on a featured salad). Also, a huge problem was that we had Dominos Pizza on our meal plans, and it was often the fastest or only option for some times of the day.

Now I am attended the University of Florida Levin College of Law. We don’t actually have any real food options, we have vending machines (all junk), the stuff in the bookstore (packaged junk) and then there is a fake Starbucks which will have prepackaged sandwiches and things like that. Recently they have started offering hot meals at lunch time once or twice a week, but those are literally served from those aluminum pans that catering companies use to keep food lukewarm while they serve and they are limited to one type of food when they offer it so it is always either Pollo Tropical or Panda Express – okay for once in a while, but not okay for every week. I usually just pack my own lunch now, and because I have more control over what I eat I am usually eating healthier foods. I never thought that I would be shopping for lunch boxes with my little sister but you do what you have to do, no matter how silly it feels to carry it around sometimes.


49 Katie September 27, 2012 at 1:05 am

I graduated from a private school right outside of Boston and while there were healthy options (salad bar and things like that) there was definitely a lot of room for improvement. I think they could have done a better job at helping students make informed decisions about that they eat. Simple things like posting nutrition info, proper portion sizes etc would have been really helpful. Also, while I agree that not everything has to be super healthy, it seemed like there were always way too many unhealthy options (for example, many more sugar-laden cereals versus high fiber, more nutritious ones). My current workplace has actually done a great job in the corporate cafeteria advertising their new line of healthy foods. They post nutritional information in prominent locations, promote healthy options and make people excited about trying new healthy and exciting foods. Great blog – keep up the good work!


50 Jamie September 27, 2012 at 2:15 am

My school had different stations in the cafeteria (salad bar, hot bar, fried bar, pasta bar, international station) and they also added a “light pick” of the day which usually was a wrap with lowfat hummus, or a premade salad, veggies burger etc. It was nice to know that they had this option if you just wanted to run in grab the light pick and the salad bar for dinner. They also always offered just egg whites, veggie burgers, whole wheat options, low fat dressings etc. On the website you could look up all of the calories and ingredients of the dining hall which I thought was pretty cool and informative. In the actual cafeteria was the office for a registered dietician which was also very useful. Granted her hours were limited but if you went in for lunch and her door was open you were more than welcome to stop in with a question– I thought this was a great option and even better was the location of her office. I do wish more schools offered healthier options such as stevia, almond milk, ezekial bread, chobani, etc but hopefully that will be in the near future!


51 Lauren September 27, 2012 at 2:30 am

I recently graduated from the University of Florida and as much as I LOVED attending school there, the dining options were not so wonderful. I was in a sorority so I ate many meals at home, but when I did venture out, the campus dining options weren’t very healthy. The dorm dining centers had a great salad bar and make-your-own sandwich stations, which were nice, but these places were mostly geared towards freshmen. On-campus restaurants included places like Moes, Chick-fil-a, wendys, taco bell, pollo tropical, panda express, subway, quiznos, etc. Of course you are able to find at least one healthy meal at each of these restaurants, but it would have been nice to have more fresh, produce-based options throughout campus. It would also be nice to see more gluten-free, vegetarian, or even vegan options as well! Another improvement would be to inform students of what food they are consuming (i.e. nutrition labels, calorie counts, healthier alternatives). For those who have a hard time deciding what to eat, it may be helpful having the nutrition statistics labeled throughout the restaurants and school dining halls. I also think it would be awesome to have various food booths throughout campus for healthy eating companies that are trying to promote their products (i.e. stevia, blue diamond almond milk, luna, chobani, love grown granola, GNC, clif, etc.).


52 Kristen September 27, 2012 at 2:51 am

I’m in Texas and even though Austin is a health conscious city, my college was severely behind the game on healthy foods. The food court when I was attending consisted of nothing but fast food kiosks….so the best option seemed to be Chick Fil A. I believe they have since added more fruits, veggies and salad bar type options but nothing compared to what I’ve heard other colleges offer :-/


53 Iris September 27, 2012 at 3:28 am

I just graduated from Harvard (and so it’s extra lovely seeing your workout videos capturing Boston and the Charles!), where almost all undergrads ate in the residential dining halls. I think there were healthy options for those who wanted them, but there were also a lot of unhealthy choices all the time – this made it hard for me to eat cleanly all the time. For example, there was always a salad bar, but the vegetables weren’t always very fresh. At the same time, there’d be onion rings, fried chicken, pizza, etc. that would look more appetizing. Another complaint is that when they did make vegetables, they often drowned them in canola oil or steamed them until the vegetables would basically melt in your mouth (not my favorite!). I do have to give the dhalls credit for trying to be sustainable and local in their food sourcing though. We had a lot of Richardson’s ice cream (local to MA, though I guess this was just more not-so-healthy food at our disposal!), haha. As for food for gluten-free eaters, it was slim pickings – the salad bar was the best option, especially if no gluten contamination is okay.

Hope that answers your question! And if you have a moment, I just started a blog of my own (thanks to inspirations such as yourself!) and would be so flattered if you stop by and say hi. :) Thanks, Sarah!


54 Jessica B September 27, 2012 at 4:02 am

I am a 5th year student at Northeastern University and our dining halls some great options and some not-so-great options. The good: Salad bars, grilled options, make-your-own stir fry, plentiful vegan/vegetarian options, sushi stations, deli stations, fat free fro yo and an awesome demo kitchen where visiting chefs teach you how to prepare certain meals, styles, etc. It’s also great how the menu is constantly changing and they allow you to check the menu of each dining hall online so you can decide where you want to eat. Our newest dining hall has lots of international options and the NU Dining staff is always coming up with great food-related events around campus (Ex: today’s fall food festival!) The bad: Availability of baked goods (okay, I actually love this), mass produced feel, and the fact that sometimes it seems like every vegetable “healthy” option is swimming in oil. Overall it’s pretty great by dining hall standards though! They just redid our student center so now we have a lot more options as well.


55 Divya @ Eat.Teach.Blog. September 27, 2012 at 4:13 am

I think UCLA has one of the best dining halls – ranked in the top ten best campus food rankings. Unfortunately, I didn’t take advantage of the wonderful options they gave us. My passion for healthy living didn’t happen until AFTER I gained the Freshman 15 (and College 50) – gross, I know.

But, MAN if I could go back and do it all over…..

They had a salad bar with every item imaginable. From tofu to chopped chicken, hard-boiled eggs to all sorts of veggies. Salsa if you preferred that over dressing. Grilled chicken. So many vegan and veggie options.

Yea, there’s the typical dorm food – pizza, desserts, fries galore. But they had so many options. It was just up to the individual to choose the healthy ones.


56 Hilary September 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Hi Sarah!! Okay before I start my rant…..first I just want to say, I love you and your blog. Ah you are such an inspiration!! I’m not going to ramble on and sound creepy, but just know people love what you do :)

Now, to answer your question, I am a senior at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. It is a small state school in Indiana, PA with about 15,000 students. I’m studying Middle Level Education-Language Arts; it is a really great school, both academically and socially :)

I lived on campus my first two years. I didn’t start getting into fitness until the spring semester of my sophomore year. During those first 3 semesters, I ate at the dining hall and on-campus foods posts 2-3 times a day, every single day. I never necessarily followed an “unhealthy” diet during high school, but never before was I offered unlimited cheese quesodillas and french fries 3 times a week! I was insane….I am so embarrassed. The dining hall has a cereal bar, salad bar, sandwich station, stir-fry station, pizza and pasta station, ice cream/dessert bar, grill station, and 2 other places that always switch it up….one is more of a “home-cooked meal” place and the other is more “fried foods.”

The end of my freshman year I fell very ill and was unable to eat anything for about a week and a half (I had to stomach down my boyfriends protein shakes just to get some type of nutrients in me). I lost about 5 pounds, and this is when I noticed that yep….it happened…..I gained the freshman 15. That summer, I started exercising more regularly and watching what I ate. I kept it up when I got back to school, but spring semester of sophomore year was when I really jumped into full gear.

Of course, there are always going to be “unhealthy” options (aka- things you can eat in moderation). But I started taking full advantage of the salad and sandwich station for lunch, and the stir-fry station for dinner. UM HELLO HILARY?! I could slap myself in the face for not doing this from the beginning!

Now that I live off campus, it is MUCH easier to eat healthy….whether I feel like cooking or not is another post.

I think my school did I good job offering a balanced array of choices, I was just too blind to see it at first. I did, however, fill out a request form asking for whole wheat noodles and more reduced-fat salad dressing options. To my knowledge, that never happened. But I do have to remember they are trying to please 14,999 students…not just me (although, it should be….), and probably a good portion of those students are less concerned about their diets (although, they should be….)

And as I am finishing my last semester of college (PANIC ATTACK), and moving onto my student teaching semester, I have an awesome diet routine and am a group fitness instructor here at school for two Les Mills programs- Body Combat and Body Jam. Couldn’t be happier :)


57 Megan September 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I recently graduated from Virginia Tech and never had a problem finding healthy options at any of the dining halls! The coolest thing about one of our dining halls was a Farms and Fields station where everything was grown locally and was organic. The dining hall tried to incorporate the idea of local/organic/sustainable foods into a college dining hall. They offered everything from local raised chicken and fish to quinoa salad. Things that would not normally be found in a college dining hall but were healthy and unique can be found here…it was by far my favorite place to eat lunch and dinner! For the sweet tooth, they also sell Homestead Creamery Ice Cream (which is produced locally) because everyone needs a fix now and then :) At our other dining halls there were always options for salads and build-your-own meals, allowing you to choose vegetables over an extra roll or chicken instead of steak. I’d have to say, I think I miss the food at school more than anything else!


58 Katrina September 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I just graduated from the University of Michigan and we had a number of health and wellness options available to students. I only lived in the dorms for my freshman but would often mooch off some of my friends’ guest passes to the dining halls. Both the dining halls and a number of private cafes and restaurants around campus had “MHealthy” food options, which were basically items on the menu that passes a set of criteria to be considered “MHealthy.” There was also an initiative called “UMove” that was run by our recreational centers (we had three on campus) that organized really affordable fitness classes, IM sports, and access to affordable personal trainers and nutritionists. We could also use all of the gyms and fitness facilities on campus for free (included in our tuition). I definitely got way more active and health conscious after starting college and I’m so glad my university offered all these great things to students. Now, I have a gym membership and constantly peruse Groupon and LivingSocial for deals on fitness classes. I just bought a $20 pass for 30 fitness classes to different locations in my region. Love pilates/yoga classes and kettle ball classes!


59 Ellie@Fit for the Soul September 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I was recently attending Cal state Fullerton, CA and the cafeteria wasn’t large at all. There were a few choices but mostly fast food! The only one that I was fond of and offered some of my favorite ethnic foods (mostly Greek) was this eatery called the “Fresh Kitchen”. They had amazing salads, soup, and plenty of wrap choices. Oh! The one fried thing I liked was the falafels! haha. But for the most part, they didn’t seem to put health into much consideration. Just that one eatery. I’m hoping that they’ll come up with newer and fresher ideas though! :)


60 Jackie September 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm

What kind of heart rate monitor do you use?


61 Paige September 27, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I currently am a sophomore at Central Michigan University and think that they do an outstanding job for healthy alternatives. They always have something to offer when you go to the food companies on campus in terms of nutritional joy :)
At the food companies there are various stations and every station has something quite different and great to offer. In terms of the American Diner (a.k.a. the freshmen fifteen station) I try to avoid it. But they always offer at one of the stations some kind of cooked veggies, some nicely done protein (usually chicken), and there is always baskets of fruits available. That way if I’m in a hurry I stuff my bag with a couple apples and pears. Also the salad station up here is amazing. It is always kept fresh and looks yummy every time, they offer all kinds of veggies at it including tofu. They have a variety of dressings to pick from either low-fat ranches and vinaigrettes available too. But the really big thing that i’m proud to say that at central the nutritional tech is amazing!!

I’m a nutritional minor and so I’m really passionate about my food and body, and I have to say that Central does a great job in helping me nutritional wise through the technology. If I want to plan my meals out I can and see every nutritional fact online or through the CMU dining app. So everything that they’re cooking at the cafes today is online and ready for me to pick through. Central also uploads the meals 15 days forward. So I could essentially plan out my meals for a month and keep on my diet track. So I go online and think something sounds good, I then can click on it and the website tells me exactly how much calories, trans/sat/mono/poly fats, vitamins, protein, carbs, etc. are in it. From there i can go to the cafe and really know what the healthiest option for me is and not be tempted by the American diner.
Also the website separates food options out for you if you have a specific diet ie vegetarian, vegan, no gluten, no dairy, etc. And if you are allergic to any of these things or are a participant of a special diet (vegetarian, etc) the food cooks will cook you your own meal with no allergens and they always have separate vegetarian options. Like today you could pick from meat loaf or a vegetarian loaf. Or at a stir-fry station you can ask for tofu in place of chicken. I also am a huge fan of soy milk and that is readily supplied at the cafes here, even the chocolate soy milk (YUM)
The Cafe also has these ‘health’ leafs, which they place on foods that fit a certain criteria i.e. low cal, low fat, etc. The cafe website is also a learning tool and can help teach any wayward college student how to get back on tract in the dining halls using the website.
I might be a little biased but I believe my college does an amazing job of incorporating health and wellness into the students that go here and provides the tools to make everyone more diet healthy.


62 Sarah September 27, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Wow Paige! Thank you so much for your awesome insight!!


63 Grace September 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Hi Sarah! I have to say, I just recently started reading your blog regularly, and its great! You give out so many useful tips :)
I recently graduated from Cal Poly, SLO. Well, sort of recently, it was two years ago. The meal plan did not have many healthy options when I lived in the dorms. It was definitely a shock for me since my family had always eaten very healthy food. Admittedly, it was kind of exciting to be able to eat things like pizza all the time, for about two weeks, but it got old really fast. The campus did have a market, with a salad bar, fresh fruit, and other healthy options, which was great. And they sold the most delicious organic gummy bears there, which I still always look for when I go to a health food store!


64 Sonya September 29, 2012 at 12:04 am

I went to F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology) in NYC and although we were right in the center of the city with millions of healthy food options everywhere, the school caf wasn’t too bad. I remember the always had a salad station, fresh pizza, mexican station, a meal of the day and various sammys. They also had a frozen yogurt station that we’d all hover over after meals. I lived off of salads topped with beans from the Mexican station and veggie burgers. That does get old after awhile though. Unfortunately, I’d say there were an above average percentage of girls with ED’s. Could be that 96% of the school was female and studying fashion.


65 Anna S September 29, 2012 at 2:05 am

I went to a small, private Liberal-arts school in the Midwest. We had some options, but they were definitely limited. We always had a decent salad bar, hot option (i.e. roasted chicken, potatoes, green beans), burgers/fries/pizza, a hot specialty item (i.e. some kind of imitation asian take-out food) and then we had a vegan/vegetarian section which always had one vegan and one vegetarian option as well as another little salad bar with raw tofu and other specialty items. Then there was cereal, milks (soymilk, almond milk etc). It did the job but many people complained about the poor quality of food.


66 Rachel September 29, 2012 at 2:08 am

I went to Michigan State University and we had the BEST salad bar equipped with a rice cooker! The salad bar had everything: spinach, mixed greens, romaine, carrots, tomatoes, cucs, chickpeas, tuna, chicken, bak choy, mushrooms, etc. They really went all out. Additionally, they always had hummus from a great local restaurant in East Lansing, MI with pita bread and veggies to dip. Finally, they had a fresh pasta station where you could pick sauces, veggies and meats to create your own pasta primavera or meat supreme!


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