How to Navigate the Cafeteria: for the Female College Athlete

How to Navigate the Cafeteria: for the Female College Athlete

Emily R Pappas, M.S.


School is starting up again, and for female college athletes, this not only means back to training, but back to the world of school food. You want to fuel your body for success, but that frozen yogurt machine is calling your name… what to do?

Macronutrients on your Plate

When making food choices, start with the big ones—macronutrients. Set a goal to have one each of the following major groups on your plate:


This is your base. Look for lean chicken breast, eggs, turkey, beef, or Greek yogurt. AVOID breading or fried foods so you cut down on simple carbs and fats. Remember, baked, steamed, grilled, or pan cooked is best


Complex carbs are for energy. Skip the sugary, simple carbs like white bread, or most cereals and baked goods when you are not active. Instead, look for options like whole wheat pasta, rice, white or sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and whole wheat or rye breads. And DON’T FORGET the FRUITS, which can also be a good source of complex carbohydrates.


Fats are not only for flavor, but also to help keep you full. Think GOOD FATS like nuts and seeds, avocado, olive and coconut oil, nut butters, and hard cheeses. REMEMBER, eggs and beef also have fat, so factor that in to your decision-making process, too.

Greens for the Win

Once your macros are accounted for, hit up the salad bar for some color on your plate. Or look for steamed veggies in the main food lines. Just steer clear of the ones that are swimming in oil or sauce—that’s way more fat than you want or need. Also, watch your salad dressing selections, as many contain a lot more fat than you may realize. When it comes to vegetables, raw, steamed, or grilled are your best bets. When you are away at school, you have freedom to make your own decisions—good and bad. For success in your sport, you must make good food choices. Skip the bad stuff, focus on your macronutrients, and you will be setting yourself up for another successful season. 

Want more help figuring out how to navigate through the cafeteria this season?Check out our nutrition coaching! The initial assessment is free:)