Meal Plan and Dining Information

Where can I find information about Brown dining?

The Brown Dining Services (BDS) website is the best place to find out specific and up-to-date information on the following topics related to dining services:

Where can I get some ideas for meals to put together at the dining hall?

A great resource for meal ideas at BDS, is rattygourmet.blogspot.com, a blog written by Brown students, complete with photos of each dish. You can also submit recipe ideas to their blog.

Here are a few suggestions for meals at BDS eateries. Note that each meal uses foods from all of the food groups, to maximize nutrient intake. See how many variations you can create from these ideas.

Breakfast

  • 1 cup of oatmeal with ¼ cup of raisins stirred in; 1 cup of low-fat milk
  • 2 slices whole grain toast with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter; banana
  • 2 scrambled eggs; 1 slice whole grain toast; 8 ounces of low-fat milk
  • 8 oz. low fat yogurt; 1 whole piece fruit or 8 oz. fruit juice; English muffin w/ jam
  • Kashi cereal with sunflower seeds, raisins, and skim milk
  • Egg white omelet with veggies and whole wheat toast

Lunch

  • Main dish salad: add pieces of chicken or tuna or ½ cup of beans to a large plate of colorful raw vegetables. Include some type of grain, like a pita bread, muffin, or noodle soup.
  • Vegan rice and beans. This dish is high in fiber, low in fat, and will keep you satisfied all afternoon.
  • Pita Pizza: place pita on a plate. Add tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes from the salad bar. Sprinkle mozzarella on top. Add desired toppings from salad bar or pieces of diced chicken from the line. Microwave and enjoy.
  • Vegetarian chili (high in protein and fiber); piece of fresh fruit; 8 oz. yogurt.
  • Turkey roll-up with lettuce, tomato, and cranberry mayo (combine cranberry sauce with mayonnaise).
  • Black bean veggie burger topped with salsa (from salad bar) on whole wheat bun with a side of cold vegetable salad.

Dinner

  • V-Dub Wrap: fill a wrap with cheese, veggies, and lean meat or tuna. Go to the sandwich griller and you will have a hot pocket in no time.
  • Baked potato meal: using a baked potato as your base, fill in with some of your favorites from the salad bar or the hot line (broccoli bits and other raw or steamed veggies, shredded cheese, beans, tofu or tempeh squares, plain yogurt, chili). Take to the microwave and you'll have a full course meal that's delicious and nutritious.
  • Grilled chicken breast, topped with spaghetti sauce, brown rice from the vegan bar, and a bowl of salad with 1 tsp. oil (high in omega-3 fatty acids, important for heart health and many other benefits).
  • Soup-based meal: start with a minestrone or vegetable soup that already has some beans in it (providing protein and fiber). To boost your protein even more (it takes ½ cup of beans to make a protein serving), add more chickpeas or other beans from the salad bar. Heat in the microwave and sprinkle some parmesan or grated cheddar cheese on top. A hearty piece of whole grain bread and a side salad make delicious accompaniments to this meal.
  • Pasta of the day tossed with julienne grilled chicken and vegetables of the day, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and garlic powder.
  • Brown or white rice mixed with vegetables (either veggies of the day or from salad bar) and topped with soy sauce and ground ginger.

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What are some suggestions for selecting balanced meals in the dining halls?

One easy guideline for any meal is to think about dividing your plate in half. One half of the plate should be filled with vegetables and fruits. One quarter should be proteins (e.g., fish, beans/legumes, lean meat, poultry, tofu, tempeh, eggs, etc.), and the other quarter filled with complex carbohydrates (e.g., brown rice, baked potato, whole grain breads or cereals, pasta, etc.).

In addition, you should include a low-fat dairy product (yogurt, low fat cheese, milk or calcium-fortified soy milk) about 3 times a day. Your diet also needs to have sources of healthy fats or oils 2-3 times a day. Examples of this would be peanut butter, fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, avocado, olives and olive oil.

Try to select foods that represent at least 3 different food groups at each meal, and to vary those foods from day to day. This can increase the quality of your diet, without having to closely track individual nutrients, which can sometimes lead to an unhealthy relationship with eating and food.

Aim for as much variety as you can in your meals and snacks, as this will help ensure that you are getting a wide range of nutrients. A single food, no matter how nutritious, cannot provide the entire spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that your body needs on a regular basis.  The wide variety of choices offered by BDS gives many ways to put together meals and snacks that have the nutrients and energy you need.

For guidelines about serving sizes for different food groups, click on what counts as a serving.

What if I feel overwhelmed by the unlimited food choices in the dining hall?

At first, coming to an all-you-care-to-eat dining hall for your meals can be intimidating if you are used to eating at home or in restaurants. Here are some ways to make selecting balanced meals at the Ratty and the V-Dub a more relaxing experience.

  • Check the menu ahead of time and decide what you want at that meal. The Brown Daily Herald and the BDS web site list the day's menus for Sharpe Refectory and the V-Dub.
  • Give yourself enough time to relax and eat. Once you have your meal, sit down and enjoy it. Eat slowly to have a better sense of whether you need to get something else to eat.
  • Try eating at each dining hall at different times of the day to find times that seem more manageable. Explore the other eateries on campus.
  • Avoid skipping meals so you are not overly hungry when you go to the dining hall. Eating breakfast and having healthy snacks throughout the day can keep your energy levels up and help prevent cravings for sweet and salty snacks.
  • If you are an international student, you may want to introduce new foods gradually to avoid gastrointestinal upset. If your digestive system is having problems, it is a good idea to eat fairly plain, unseasoned foods at first (e.g., breads, cereals, rice and pastas, cooked vegetables and fruits, and plain meats and poultry without a lot of sauces.) You may also need to avoid milk and other dairy products for a while, until your digestive system settles down. If you have any concern about your symptoms, you should check with a medical provider at Health Services by calling 401.863-3953.
  • It is important to remember that you don’t need to eat perfectly balanced every time you eat.  In fact, aiming for a general balance of nutrition over the whole day or week may help to relax a bit about your food choices, and to prevent becoming overly consumed about your food selection.

Eating well means getting both nutrition AND enjoyment from food.  Nutrient-rich foods that contain vitamins and minerals are important to your health, and include choices like whole grain breads and cereals, brightly-colored fruits and vegetables, milk and yogurt (as well as their soy alternatives), and lean proteins.  When you establish a consistent eating schedule that emphasizes balance, variety, and moderation in food choices, this allows for basic nutritional requirements to be met, while leaving room to manage those foods that may not be particularly high in vitamins and minerals without hurting your health. 

If food or eating starts to create strong feelings of stress, anxiety, or guilt, or you become concerned and preoccupied with how your eating choices may affect your health or weight, consider making a free and confidential appointment with the Health Services Dietitian (Nutritionist) to discuss your concerns. If needed, you can find out more information about eating concerns by visiting the link on our website.

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Resources

The administrative dietitian for Brown Dining Services works with students who have special dietary needs and serves as a resource for questions pertaining to recipe ingredients, nutrient content of foods, and general nutrition information. You can contact the dietitian by email at gina_guiducci@brown.edu.

The Health Services dietitian is available for individual appointment or phone consultation to discuss the many types of eating concerns you may have regarding yourself, a friend, roommate or teammate.  Health Promotion also offers workshops, pamphlets, and reading materials covering these and related issues. There are no fees for Health Promotion services.  You can contact the Health Promotion office at 401.863-2794.

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Disclaimer: BWell Health Promiotion is part of Health Services at Brown University. Health Promotion maintains this site as a resource for Brown students. This site is not intended to replace consultation with your medical providers. No site can replace real conversation. Health Promotion offers no endorsement of and assumes no liability for the currency, accuracy, or availability of the information on the sites we link to or the care provided by the resources listed. Health Services staff are available to treat and give medical advice to Brown University students only. If you are not a Brown student, but are in need of medical assistance please call your own health care provider or in case of an emergency, dial 911. Please contact us if you have comments, questions or suggestions.