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Thread: Struggling to meet nutritional needs at school page

  1. #1
    evertastica's Avatar
    evertastica is offline Member
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    Struggling to meet nutritional needs at school

    Primal Fuel
    A little background:
    College student, started primal back in mid-july. Not really trying to lose a lot of weight but I want to be fit/healthy and feel great. So far I have been completely satisfied and amazed, so happy that I have a supportive and participating parent too.

    Anyways, here is the issue.
    I moved back to school a month ago, after following a 99% primal diet/exercise routine at home I planned to continue at school to the best of my abilities. I packed some nut butters, coconut, canned tuna and macadamia nuts so that I could have a little emergency supply. The school I go to doesn't have student kitchens and we are required to be on meal plan. There is a variety in the cafeteria but after about a week I found my stash from home almost gone, and I was getting really hungry easily because I was eating low carb and the food offered wasn't high in fat. I would rarely eat any meat other than chicken because it was lathered in some sauce or mixed with something non primal.
    I find myself gravitating to the salad bar where I can get some green veg, occasionally some chopped hard boiled egg too. I can usually get some plain chicken from the sandwich station too.

    I've resorted to eating a much less primal diet than I'd prefer and I am starting to feel/see the effects. I am no gaining weight probably because I exercise more here because of sports. I'm much more hungry, unsatisfied and my energy levels have fallen.

    I need some suggestions. I'm working on get a mini-fridge for my room (nothing else is allowed). I already spent so much money on the meal plan I can't technically fund a large supply of food for my room.

    I also have found I'm eating way to much fruit. I'm trying to limit it to 1 or 2 peices per day but even that is too much for my body I think. It's easy and convenient but I think it might be the cause of my skin issues that have started to reappear on my chin/forehead (nothing really severe).

    I'm desperate, why does everything have to low/non fat. Even the greek yogurt at the cafe is the nonfat kind so it's pointless to eat since there's so many carbs. There is half/half for coffee and tea but i have no idea if its nonfat/lowfat...

    This evening I was so hungry I ended up eating a cereal bar for the first time since I started, I can only hope I don't have too many negative issues :/

  2. #2
    Hedonist's Avatar
    Hedonist is offline Senior Member
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    Sigh. We hear that a lot from students. If you search on college you will find threads. But I don't know how much they will help you.

    I would say to take the meat and scrape off what you can. Is there butter you can pile on warm foods? Is there olive oil at the salad bar? Go for as much fat and protein as you can. Is there any chance of getting a care package from home? Good luck!
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  3. #3
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    Is there any way you can stoke up at breakfast with eggs and bacon? I find that when I eat a high protein breakfast, it helps, but it's easier to get protein/fat in breakfast foods in my experience if there are eggs and bacon or ham available.

    I agree about trying to scrape the sauces off the meats if you can, but I also wonder whether it would be possible for you to speak to someone in food services. Don't mention primal or special diet but explain that you have some food 'sensitivities' and need to have your meat or fish in as 'natural' a state as possible. Perhaps they can put some aside for you?

    By the way, the fat-free Greek yoghurt in my supermarket is only 8g carbs for 20g protein, and I don't think that's too many carbs. It would be preferable to fruit, in my opinion.

  4. #4
    Velocity's Avatar
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    evertastica, your issues are precisely why I have started Primal University. I'm just starting out right now, but dorm life (dining halls, limited availability for space / storage, etc.) is one of the main issues for college kids like you and me who do their best to adhere to a paleo/primal lifestyle.

    There are a few things you can do immediately as far as the dining hall is concerned, the least of which is trying to befriend the dining hall staff. Not just the food servers, but their supervisors as well as the cooks and administrative staff. At least when I lived on campus and ate at the dining hall, there were always a couple supervisors / administrators milling about the joint. If there aren't any visible when you go to the dining hall, ask one of the food servers if you might speak to a supervisor / administrator. (You can also leave a comment card if they have space for those.) Inform them of your issues (e.g., if meats are already doused in a gravy or something similar, suggest that the gravies be placed in bowls alongside the meat so that students can "opt out" of receiving it when they approach that particular line) and see if any changes could possibly be made.

    The problem is that virtually all dining halls have specific contracts with their food suppliers, not to mention menus that are planned out for the entire year. So, any change you try to effect may not even happen right away.

    As for what you can do in your dorm room, there are a multitude of options and most of them involve ordering stuff online. Sites like Tropical Traditions and Nutiva provide coconut products (oil, shredded / flaked, etc.) which are great supplementary / snack items. There's also Amazon, where other nonperishable items can be purchased in large quantities for cheaper than the grocery stores.

    If you can have a microwave in your dorm, there's also the possibility of purchasing eggs at the grocery (for when you get your mini-fridge), and using the microwave to make scrambled eggs (can use coconut milk to mix in the eggs if you wish, for example).

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head since I can't actually come see your dining hall firsthand. But see what favor you can curry with the dining hall staff. It works wonders, because they have a vested interest in keeping the students happy as much as possible.
    Are you a college student, trying to navigate college while being Primal? Do you know any other PB college students on a tight budget? Heck, for that matter, are YOU trying to live Primal on a budget? Enroll at Primal University!

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    Echoing Velocity's comments, if you are going to commit to a primal/paleo dietary lifestyle, you have to learn to be assertive with those who provide your food, ie grocers, restaurants, etc, so better to start developing those skills now beginning with the school's food services. Certainly they are already making some dietary accomodations such as gluten-free, peanut allergies, kosher, etc. However, you will need to use the right words. If you talk about wanting them to serve paleo/primal selections, you probably won't get anywhere. If you speak in terms of medical necessity, ie allergies, you will get their attention. If you are much healthier on a grain and legume free diet, you have an allergy to grains and peanuts. Look up the definitions of allergy if you are initially uncomfortable with that concept. If your parents are supportive, enlist their help with food services if you can't make any headway. Good luck.

  6. #6
    Velocity's Avatar
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    evertastica, after further thoughts, I've gone ahead and fleshed out my thoughts on the subject in a post on my site.

    As far as recommendations for food to store in your room, that's another issue, but you can check out sites like Tropical Traditions for coconut products (oil, flakes, etc.), Oh! Nuts (obvious, if your system can handle them), etc.
    Are you a college student, trying to navigate college while being Primal? Do you know any other PB college students on a tight budget? Heck, for that matter, are YOU trying to live Primal on a budget? Enroll at Primal University!

    For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either.
    -- Blaise Pascal

  7. #7
    evertastica's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your suggestions! I will definitely try and talk to the staff at the cafeteria. I think they can help me make some accommodations. I figured it's easy enough to say I have a wheat allergy/sensitivity (this is what I usually tell people when they question my food choices). I dislike being an inconvenience or getting questions from peers/friends so I don't make a big deal out of stuff.

    Velocity, your primal university sounds like a fabulous idea. I can't wait to see this blog/idea develop!
    Unfortunately I am limited to only a fridge until I am a senior. I'm going to try and stock up on butter, heavy cream, canned chicken/tuna, almond/macadamia nuts, along with some coconut butter concoction that my mother has developed. I'm going home for a long weekend soon and I'm going to make some homemade jerky too.

    There is olive oil at the salad bar and I use is regularly but I'm assuming its not EVOO as it lacks in flavor. There is butter available, but I actually have never tried it or gone to see if its even halfway decent butter...

    I just wish I could have a real steak once in awhile :P

    Oh and as a side note, after eating two cereal bars last night I didn't experience anything too weird other than I was pretty grouchy/rundown when I woke up at 7 this morning for work. I had a big brunch with some roast chicken (with skin!) and coffee (with the questionable half&half)...I felt pretty decent after.

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    NowhereMan's Avatar
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    I'm a college student as well and while my school's dining setup seems a little more primal friendly than yours, it's definitely a challenge. Definitely talk to someone in dining services. Most students don't offer any input, so they tend to pay close attention to those that do. All I would add is to pick up one of these. Yes I know they're goofy, but you can see why it's really useful. Is it against the rules? Of course. Is your health worth it? Well, that's up to you.

  9. #9
    dado's Avatar
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    What the hell do you mean you're "required" to be on a meal plan?? That's insane. You're not angry?

    I would start making some noise and trouble, start doing something about that, no one can require you to spend your money on anything. Ridiculous, I would be fuming right now.

    Get angry, make noise.

  10. #10
    Scotty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dado View Post
    What the hell do you mean you're "required" to be on a meal plan?? That's insane. You're not angry?

    I would start making some noise and trouble, start doing something about that, no one can require you to spend your money on anything. Ridiculous, I would be fuming right now.

    Get angry, make noise.
    A lot of schools require dorm residents to use a meal plan which makes financial sense for the school. While a small number of schools require all students to live in dorms, the student's choice is to live off campus. Many parents would prefer their student to reside in a campus dorm and utilize a meal plan.

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