Friday, 22 November 2013

Post #2- Catering for Catered Halls

“Hi^^ I'm thinking about giving paleo a go, but I'm stuck in catered halls. any ideas?”

The above question was posed to me and I thought I’d give answering it a shot. I lived in catered halls in my first year so I know how hard it is to eat healthily in an environment where burgers and chips are on offer everyday. I think that this is a problem which many potential paleo-ers might be facing. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you my guide to eating Paleo in catered halls!

My first course of action would be to make some investments, namely a George Foreman Grill (or something similar) and a slow cooker. A quick search on Amazon reveals that these cost a lot less than you might expect.

Now that you’ve got the tools it’s time to formulate a game plan. Consider the three standard meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Let’s start with breakfast and lunch.

The reason I’ve paired these two together is because once you’ve dropped toast, cereal and breakfast bars there isn’t a whole lot of breakfast food left according to conventional wisdom. What is left is bacon and eggs which the government and the media would have us eating sparingly (the fools!). What I’m getting at is that you need to stop considering certain foods as breakfast foods, lunch foods and dinner foods. It’s all just food. This fact is going to allow for much greater variety in your breakfasts.

This is your new best friend
My advice would be to make your own breakfast and lunch rather than buy it in the dining hall to alleviate temptation. It will also offer you more choice and let you get some vitamins and minerals which won’t be on offer in the dining hall. Most importantly you will know exactly what you’re putting into your body.

Using your shiny new tools you can prepare a wide array of foods. Crispen some bacon on your grill. Cook up some organic white rice in your slow cooker. Prepare a near infinite combination of salads! Taking five minutes out of your day to list the possible foods you could make reveals that living in a catered hall isn’t such a dietary dead end.

The same could be carried over to dinner, but if you choose to eat in the dining halls here’s my advice:

Much like eating at a restaurant whilst on Paleo, you’ve got to settle for the best on offer. This will normally mean opting for the steamed vegetables and non-breaded cuts of meat. Just because it’s not the perfect outcome (there might be sauces and it’s highly likely that the food was prepared using vegetable oil), doesn’t mean you need to revert to the most unhealthy option. You’re doing the best with the choice given to you. If all else fails, remember the hail mary of Paleo is always there: the salad bar. Something I would do in this case is to see what’s on the menu before queuing; there’s nothing worse than waiting ten minutes to be served only to find out that the only food available is something you don’t want to be eating. That way, if you don’t like the look of what’s for dinner, you can return to your room to make something quickly then scoot back to eat with your friends.

There are three big takeaways here which will help you to eat Paleo in catered halls:
  1. Break your connotations of some foods being “non-breakfast foods”
  2. Realise that there is a huge variety which can be prepared even without an oven and stove
  3. Always go for the best available options
I hope this helps if you’re living in catered halls and want to go Paleo. If so then please shoot me a message or comment below, I’d love to be able to get some success stories on here!

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