Finding fit food

If you’re anything like me, hitting the Freshman 15 wasn’t the worst part of my time at Portland State. The worst was seeing 15 whiz past on the scale as the arrow inched toward 40.

Putting health on the backburner for four years is all too easy when you’re spending up to, and sometimes more than, 12 hours a day on campus. I gained almost 40 pounds during my undergrad. Trying to lose my pooch has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Fighting off weight gain is one of the most challenging tests of your college career. When your tummy starts grumbling, there are few places you can turn to on campus that won’t leave you fending off suspenders with the belt that no longer fits. There are plenty of delicious food carts a stone’s throw in any direction, but there are few that won’t add inches to your waistline.

Here are a few potentials that could aid you on your path to healthy eating.

Green Roots Café
If you’re looking for a health-conscious restaurant and don’t want to leave the PSU campus, Green Roots Café is one of the first stops to make. Located in the basement of the Smith Memorial Student Union, Green Roots is a vegetarian and vegan student-run restaurant that emphasizes sustainable eating options.

With a menu that frequently rotates, Green Roots Cafe’s prices range from comparable to definitely cheaper than other options downtown. The most significant downsides include the often unbearable wait time and the unpredictable portion sizes, which vary from week to week. Then again, puny portions could be a blessing in disguise if you’re struggling to eat less.

Downtown grocery stores
The foraging method is maybe one of the safest ways to go. Leaving the restaurant behind in favor of a more expansive selection can set you on the path to making healthier eating choices. But this type of selection also comes at a risk—without self-control it can also lead you to Sunchips and 40s of Olde English. If you are able to fight the junk food urge, hitting up a downtown grocery store is one of the quickest ways to unite you with fresh produce and prepackaged fit-friendly treats.

There’s just one catch—there are few grocery stores near campus. Actually, there’s one. The Safeway on SW 10th and Jefferson is the only grocery option remotely close to campus. And let’s face it, on the list of affordable grocery stores, Safeway is near the bottom. If you’re looking for cheap healthy options, this might be more of a last resort than a staple.

There is no healthy eating on campus
If we want to be frank here, let’s face it—there are no real healthy eating options on campus. You can fool yourself into thinking a veggie footlong sandwich from Subway or anything on the menu at Café Yumm is healthy, but you’re wrong. There are plenty of places you can get salads or overpriced bananas (seriously, $1 for a single fucking banana? Get outta here, PSU) across campus, but the only true healthy meal you’ll find is the one you brown bagged in.

Without communal fridges this can be a royal pain in the ass. But a good lunch bag will save you money in the long run, not to mention it will keep your waistline and asscheeks down. As somebody who is now 30 pounds lighter, I can vouch for this. I’ve saved an embarrassing amount of money by not eating out on campus every day, and both my waistline and asscheeks are noticeably smaller. Pants fit better and sitting in chairs for extended periods of time gets more painful as my ass gets smaller and smaller.

Preparing your own meals isn’t the most fun you could be having–that’s probably pounding a Mighty Mug with some buds at the campus Schmizza–but the extended time to your life expectancy makes the 10 minutes chopping vegetables for a kale salad totally worth it. I promise.