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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Crunching the calorie counts and cost of eating Student Union food

    Carmen Valencia
    A view of Papa John’s in the Student Union Memorial Center.

    The freshman 15 has its own Wikipedia entry, which—although it claims to be arbitrarily set and is probably just named for its alliterative qualities—is still indicative of weight put on when you are set free into the magical world of the meal plan.

    The UA does not have a cafeteria-style student union, but rather a selection of popular fast food chains and separate similarly student-centered fast casual dining options in its Student Union Memorial Center.

    The Arizona Student Unions website does not yet have its nutritional information page filled out, but promises to exist at some point in the near future. An attempt to make up for this, perhaps, are the “Smart Moves.”

    Smart Moves items are designated so students earn at least one point on the Smart Moves scale—which weighs positive and negative attributes against each other to add or subtract “points” from each item—when they choose Smart Moves.

    Some of the positive attributes include minimally processed foods, those containing health-promoting fats and even foods with concern for the environment.

    Negative attributes include refined grains, saturated fat levels when greater than 10 percent of calories come from saturated fat and excessive sodium content, which would be greater than 500 milligrams.

    You can check out the website for more in-depth breakdowns of the attributes, and to find examples of the items on special student union restaurants marked as Smart Moves.

    At the Cellar Bistro, Smart Moves include lettuce wrap burgers, salmon entrees and BBQ and blackened chicken. The Core and Core+ outlets at the main and Park Student Unions provide many smarter options with dozens of colorful vegetables for chosing.

    The UA is constantly investing more into providing resources for students with a sincere desire to be healthy, as well as those with various food allergies or dietary restrictions. Some of the best advice is to explore with your friends and to keep an eye out for help provided on menus along the way.

    Panda Express, a chain that for a few years now has made its calorie counts visible in restaurants and indicates “wok smart” food items that include lower calorie options.

    Otherwise, a bowl of Beijing Beef (470 calories) with Chow Mein (510) can have you at about 1000 calories, with a bowl of Orange Chicken (380) and Fried Rice (520) not far behind.

    Nearby is another favorite, Chick-fil-A, where a plain, classic chicken sandwich comes out to 440 calories. An eight-count of nuggets is 270, 12-count is 400 and small to large fry orders span 310 to 520 calories.

    At Papa John’s Pizza, each cheese slice of an extra large pizza will give you 300 calories, sausage slices at 350, pepperoni slices at 340 and specialty slices around 400 calories. Two garlic Parmesan bread sticks add a total of 340 calories.

    A popular breakfast and mid-day snack spot is Einstein Bros. Bagels, where a plain or whole wheat bagel is 260 calories, an everything bagel is 280, Asiago cheese is 300 and a cinnamon sugar bagel is the highest calorie count at 320.

    All of the Shmears are 150 calories or less per serving, with many of the options being reduced fat. The rest of the menu includes breakfast and other sandwiches, some of which can be around 700 calories, with items like bacon and cheese always piling on.

    It can be hard to make the right choice when there are so many items to choose from, and so many tasty recommended foods that you want to try—especially at other restaurants that are unique to the UA. Common sense is oftentimes all you need, however, when it comes to making calorie-conscious cuisine decisions.

    Follow Gretchyn Kaylor on Twitter.

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