Navigating the Cafeteria

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So you read the first article, downloaded our Grocery Guide, and you are getting a feel for what foods are best for your performance and recovery. But as you look at the options in your school cafeteria, you might realize that real food is  sometimes harder to come by than you might have originally thought. We are here to help.

Here are our top 6 ways to navigate the school or any cafeteria:

1. The Salad Bar—Never skip it and make sure to take some of every veggie you can to create a rainbow for yourself. Options may be limited, or they may have the same options each day, but a wide variety of veggies are your secret weapons to promoting recovery and optimizing your health and performance. Absolutely avoid the processed salad dressings that are most often made with poor quality inflammatory oils (soybean, canola, etc. ) and instead opt for olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with or without a squeeze of lemon.
2. The Fried Bar—Detour. There are better options out there! These foods are cooked in vegetable oils at high temperatures that create lots of oxidative stress and will affect recovery. Think about these nuggets as little crispy pieces of inflammation that move you away from your goals.
3. The Stir Fry Bar—Always a great option. Even if we may not 100% approve of the oil being used, it allows you to have a rainbow of vegetables with a smart carbohydrate (rice) and your choice of protein. Brown rice or white rice? It depends on what you like. Brown rice may be harder to digest for some of you, while white rice is typically easier on digestion. Ask the cafe staff if they have a gluten free/tamari soy sauce for seasoning.
4. The Entrée Section—This section is great because they typically rotate entrées each night, which allows you to have variety. We also love this section because typically it’s all real, food-based meals. They almost always have some type of grilled protein with a smart carbohydrate (like potatoes and other starchy veggies) and lots of roasted vegetables. An easy go-to for sure!

5. The Sandwich & Pizza Option—Any protein enclosed in or on processed bread is typically not going to help you perform or recover at your peak. On most days, keep your protein sandwiched out of its processed bread, and revisit #4, the entrée selection, and load up on veggies.

6. The Soda or Pop Fountain—Skip the soda and keep your water bottle full. Soda is filled with added sugars and chemicals that promote inflammation that works against optimization. Swapping out soda with sparking water and a splash of real fruit juice sends a powerful new signal to your body that promotes recovery, sleep, focus, and immunity. Pure water is a no-brainer, and feel free to add in a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Add in some extra healing plants for performance by drinking convenient and organic green tea concentrates sweetened with monk fruit. We love Rebellious Tea concentrates!

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