Skip navigation

Nutrition & Wellness

At Northern Illinois University, we understand that students have a positive experience on campus and achieve their best academic performance when well-nourished through a community dining setting. To make it easier for you to eat well at our dining halls, we encourage you to use the tools below.

How to Eat Like a Healthy Huskie

MyDining provides nutrition and food allergy information to help you make decisions about the foods you choose to fill your plate. Created in partnership with the School of Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences, this program helps you navigate among healthy choices at NIU's residential dining halls.

Check out MyDining

We believe that all foods can fit into a healthy diet when eaten in moderation, which is why we offer a variety of foods every day. To help you navigate healthy choices within the dining halls, we have identified Healthy Huskie food items using guidelines developed by our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Choose these foods most often.

Check out our Healthy Huskie plate at each dining hall for an example of how to build a nutritious meal. These plates are either built using all Healthy Huskie choices or show a creative way of taking a richer choice and balancing it with healthy items to create a delicious meal. Try it out today. You won't regret it!

I choose to eat like a Healthy Huskie because...

  • I want to boost my concentration and productivity for class.
  • I want to feel comfortable with my body.
  • I want to enjoy food.
  • I want to avoid getting sick.
  • I want to live a long and healthy life.
  • I want to feel good about the food I put in my body.

To consume a balanced meal, fill your plate with foods from all food groups to resemble the MyPaw plate. Plant-based foods are emphasized with MyPaw and provide the essential vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting nutrients to keep you energized and at your best when you are pushed to your limits with the college life. Protein and dairy foods provide a feeling of satisfaction when eating and are essential to your strength and stamina.

Why is it important to eat fruit?

  • Fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories.
  • Fruits are rich in potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate.
  • The nutrients in fruits help prevent illness, such as colds and flu.
  • The nutrients in fruits protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer.
  • Fruits can replace higher calorie snacks as a delicious and sweet alternative.

How much fruit should I eat?

The average college student needs about two cups of fruit daily.

  • 1 small piece of fruit = ½ cup serving
  • 1 large piece of fruit = 1 cup serving
  • ½ cup of 100% fruit juice = ½ cup serving
  • ¼ cup dried fruit = ½ cup serving

How can I get more fruit into my diet?

  • Grab a piece of fresh fruit on your way out of the dining hall. You can take fresh fruit to go!
  • Put fruit on top of your cold or hot cereal for breakfast.
  • Top your yogurt with fruit. Granola and nuts are great additions as well!
  • Add sliced apple or other fruit to your green leafy salad.

Why is it important to eat vegetables?

  • Vegetables are an important source of many essential nutrients, including vitamin A, potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C.
  • Vegetables are nutrient-dense. For only a small amount of calories, you get lots of vitamins and minerals!
  • The dietary fiber in vegetables helps provide a feeling of fullness.
  • Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories, and have no cholesterol.

How many vegetables should I eat?

The average college student needs about 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily.

  • 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables = 1 cup serving
  • 2 cups raw leafy greens = 1 cup serving

How can I get more vegetables into my diet?

  • Grab veggies from the salad bar and add to your burgers and sandwiches.
  • Include a green salad with lunch and dinner.
  • Add tomatoes, carrots, or broccoli to your salad for extra nutrients.
  • Raw veggies like peppers, carrot sticks, and broccoli from the salad bar taste great with ranch or hummus to dip!

Why is it important to eat grains?

  • It is important to consume whole grains to get nutrients like dietary fiber, iron, and folic acid.
  • Refined grains are those that have been milled and appear more white in color. This process removes dietary fiber, B vitamins, and iron. The intake of refined grains should be reduced.
  • Consuming whole grains as a part of a healthy diet can help with weight management and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Eating foods containing fiber, such as whole grains, reduces constipation.

How many grains should I eat?

College students should eat about six ounces of grain daily. At least half of the grains consumed should be whole grains.

  • ½ cup cooked pasta = 1 ounce grains
  • 5 whole wheat crackers = 1 ounce of grains
  • 1 snack bag of popcorn, popped = 2 ounce of grains

How can I get more whole grains in my diet?

  • Substitute a whole grain product for a refined product, like eating whole wheat bread instead of white bread.
  • Try brown rice or whole wheat pasta.
  • Popcorn is a healthy whole grain snack when it's made with little or no added salt and butter. It's a great residence hall room snack!

Why is it important to eat dairy?

  • Dairy products include nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and potassium.
  • Dairy intake improves bone health, especially when bones are developing during your late teens and early 20s.
  • Calcium fortified juices, cereals, and soy milk are alternatives for those who cannot consume dairy.

How much dairy should I eat?

College students should consume three servings of dairy daily.

  • 1 cup milk or soymilk = 1 serving dairy
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese = 1 serving dairy
  • 3 slices processed American cheese = 1 serving dairy
  • 6 ounces (2/3 cup) yogurt = 1 serving dairy

How can I get more dairy in my diet?

Healthy Tip

Ask for your latte with skim milk.
  • Make a dip for fruits or vegetables from yogurt.
  • Have fat-free or low-fat yogurt for a snack.
  • Include milk or soy milk as a beverage at meals.
  • Top your baked potato with shredded cheese from the salad bar.

Why is it important to eat protein?

  • Meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts supply many nutrients including protein, vitamin E, and magnesium.
  • Proteins are building blocks for bones, muscle, and skin and are necessary for a variety of functions in the body!
  • Try to eat seafood one to two times a week to increase your intake of important brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.

How much protein should I eat?

College students should have five to six ounces of protein daily.

  • 1 salmon steak = 4-6 ounces protein
  • 1 egg = 1 ounce protein
  • 1 small lean hamburger = 3 ounces protein
  • ½ cup beans (such as kidney beans) = 1 ounce protein

How can I get more protein in my diet?

Healthy Tip

Choose lean turkey, chicken, and beef. They have less fat and sodium.
  • If you don't eat meat, you can source protein from unsalted nuts and seeds. Add them to a salad or have them as a snack.
  • Grab a hard-boiled egg from the salad bar at breakfast.
  • Top your leafy green salad with beans from the salad bar.

Housing & Dining
101 Neptune East
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Phone: (815) 753-1525

facebook  Twitter  Instagram