I hate dining hall food and am always hungry

I’m a freshman in college and I like everything about college so far except the food. I’m an extremely picky eater (the only foods I like are pasta with red sauce, macaroni and cheese,grilled cheese, pancakes, broccoli, and cheesecake). The dining hall almost never has food I like, and when they do it’s made abominably. I would honestly rather starve than try new food, and I’m hungry and light headed a lot of the time. I am ABSOLUTELY UNWILLING to try new food, so I don’t know what to do. I just want to eat food I like. It’s not even like I can cook for myself, since I can’t cook (my mom made all my food at home).

Do you have access to a microwave? A refrigerator? My daughter is also picky (not as picky as you) and also hates dining center food. She buys microwavable food for times she is really hungry. Personally, I’d much rather just try new food than go hungry. Sounds like you might benefit from some counseling to address this issue. Total unwillingness to try new food items is an unhealthy attitude.

I second the counseling -if you are light headed and can’t manage to eat a banana or something then you are in trouble. This is a little past picky and getting into it being a thing.
My D didn’t like her dining hall food at all but they did have to quick pick up things like cereal , fruit etc… and she could manage those.
They don’t have anything on the salad bar you can eat?

Pasta with red sauce = spagetti Os. Also can get microwaveable mac and cheese. Stock up.

Your life will be 1,000 times easier if you open up and try some new foods. And your health will be better for the rest of your life, too. It sounds like your identity is a bit wrapped up in this unwillingness to try new foods. I’d agree that a counselor at the student health center isn’t a bad idea.

Here is a bonus about being in college. You can try food, and if you really don’t like it, you can throw it out. And there is no mom or spouse who will get mad that they cooked it and you aren’t eating it. Think of college as a place where you learn new stuff, and learning new foods is part of that. They also probably have a wide variety of food, which makes it easier to try things.

I grew up eating a pretty bland diet – smallish Midwestern town, and that is what my mom cooked and my dad liked. I remember an incident when I was a senior in HS when I was away from home, super hungry, and ended up eating last at a picnic with sandwich fixings as the main item. And the turkey was GONE! And there was no mayo. And only whole grain bread. And no American cheese! But I was starved, and knew there would be no food for about 6 more hours. So I put together a sandwich of things I’d never had before – and was completely surprised when it was delicious. It was kind of a food turning point for me. I realized that I’d been scared to try things that we’re unfamiliar – but that some of them were good, and I’d been pretty sheltered from lots of different kinds of food.

Try taking some of at least one new thing at each meal. Eat at least 3 bites of it. Think of this year with food service as an opportunity to try a wide variety of new things to find more that you like, instead of as a trial.

Counseling is needed definitely. My sons outgrew that type of pickiness around age 6.

I agree - if you are literally starving and cannot eat, you should be talking to a medical professional. But, in addition to talking to a counselor, I would also suggest you see a regular physician. It might not all be in your head. Some of the causes of childhood food aversions are physical, such as a strong gag reflex or unusual sensitivity in the nerves of the mouth. You may need a referral to an occupational therapist who specializes in eating and food issues. You may need both the counselor to help you unwrap the childish feelings that starving is better than eating strange food and the food therapist to help you with the physical aspects of your food aversions.

Learning to cook is pretty easy for someone who is smart enough to go to college. Google a favorite food, find a recipe, and start practicing. Or ask your mom for her recipes.

I believe macaroni and cheese is pretty easy to make as long as you have a microwave, and grilled cheese I imagine isn’t too hard neither. You can try cooking those things yourself if there’s no way you will eat at the dining hall. If you can’t cook, you can see if you can find the only foods you will eat at a restaurant (you’re not limited to the dining hall). I think Noodles and Company has macaroni and cheese. Keep in mind though that eating at restaurants will cost more money so it may be worth it to try other foods at the dining hall, but if you absolutely refuse to eating off campus is your next best option.

Although the OP can likely find workarounds to be able to eat some of their favorites, this is really a health risk long term. Trust me – by the time you are the age of the adult posters out here, you will have serious health issues as a direct result of not eating a healthy diet. And you will wish you had done something about it early (and so will your family).

If you learn to be just a little more open minded in your food, it may very well be the most important thing you learn in college. Your list contains practically no protein, and very little in the fruit and veggie category.

You’ve got to broaden your horizons, that’s all there is to it.

Try some meatballs with that pasta and red sauce, even if it means breaking up the meatballs into small pieces. Try some ham on that grilled cheese. How about some fresh strawberries on those pancakes?

If you’re starving yourself until you’re lightheaded, this is not a food issue. It’s a mental health issue. Why not stop by the mental health office at your school and make an appointment? What you consider “extremely picky” may just be an eating disorder.

You have three choices:

  1. Open yourself to more food
  2. Learn to cook
  3. Move back home and have mom take care of you for the rest of your life.

My suggestion: start with #2… it will serve you well down the road. And slooowly work on #1. Your mom will probably object to #3.

Are you underweight?

College students ever since they arrived have hated college food. Perhaps you eat pastes. How about cold pasta salad or pasta with a cream sauce or requesting plain pasta. Try noodles and rice as alternatives to pasta. Try waffles instead of pancakes. When there are choices, it is up to you to make adjustments. Fresh fruit can fill in when very hungry.

There are social aspects to food choices. If your food tray is composed of the same narrow range of stuff, you will be teased. Likely, your friends will not want to hear about your narrow interests. You could be making yourself a social isolate…what if everyone is going for pizza and nothing on the menu fits your narrow choices. How would you share an apartment and expect your narrow range of foods from roommates who expect to share a food budget. When I was a child, three girl scout bites was required with new or disliked bites. You will not die of a tiny bite and tasting does help. Limiting food choices limits friends and you become socially ostracized.

It really helps to practice eating yucky stuff nicely. I was visiting my aunt, uncle, and cousins and was served creamed corn, yams, and ham…not only gross but I could near my mother laughing in my mind…I just added the food to the plate and ate slowly. I now eat ham, try yams and avoid creamed corn forever! Life is so much easier as an adult, including college age, when you deliberately try new foods and broaden your food choices.

Even in the dark ages we knew how to make grilled cheese using an iron in the dorm room. Now it is so much easier as there are appliances that do nothing but make grilled sandwiches. Loaf of bread, sliced cheese, and a sandwich machine will keep you going for days. Grilled cheese, morning noon and night.

You could probably make pancakes in the machine too.

Creamed corn - the real stuff, not from a can - was something I was served at a relative’s house. I was suspicious, but ate a bite to be polite. It was divine. I make it myself now. :slight_smile:

Being so picky that you are light headed and constantly hungry is a serious problem. If your food choices are so restrictive, I am wondering why you didn’t investgiate the dining options more thoroughly before enrolling at your college.

You should go to the counseling center. This is not a problem with your school dining hall. This is a problem with your perception of food. Being absolutely unwilling in all caps to try any new foods, when you are starving and light headed, is not normal. Please make an appointment right away at your school’s counseling center so you can try to understand why you would rather starve than try a new food.

Your college will have a nutritionist…talk to them about options.

So you’re saying at home you ate pancakes every day? I’m sorry, but if you’re not willing to eat some food you don’t like in order to get a college education, then you have an issue. As a freshman it is likely you have a required meal plan that is costing someone, likely your parents, real money. To ignore dining hall food and buy additional food for every meal is not financially sound idea. When you don’t have a meal plan, then shop and microwave. Saying you’re a picky eater is not an excuse - just don’t be picky - try new things. Unless this is a small school, most dining facilities have “picky eater” options. Boxes of cereal for breakfast, PB&J or basic sandwich for lunch. - I would think grilled cheese could be ordered most of the time… Would be shocked if mac n cheese isn’t frequently offered. In fact, at D’s school, breakfast swipe was just 5 items so she could, and did, get multiple boxes of cereal, yogurt cups, granola bars, or fruit that she would save for later. Most colleges have basic foods because students like them (hence chicken finger wednesday and taco Tuesdays)

You’re list of things you like is very small. Did your parents only feed you this stuff? Is there a medical reason why you don’t like foods?

If you just don’t like the way it’s prepared, then IMHO, you need to get over it.

Mom of an extremely picky eater here, who’s just starting to slowly open up to new foods as a HS student (peer pressure helped a lot).
You need to work on this, period. The lack of variety in your food will cause you health problems later in life. However, I realize this may be extremely hard for you and not just “being spoiled”. There are techniques that help, like starting from very small pieces (desensitization). You may never become omnivorous, but you should be able to eventually get decent nutrition in most situations.
Look for a therapist and/or nutritionist specializing in eating disorder. However, many of them unfortunately are concentrated on anorexia and bulimia and don’t really know how to deal with this, so you might have to be proactive. Google “selective eating disorder”.
in the meantime, you may start with getting a blender and making yourself protein cocktails to get some nutrition, and learning to cook (mac and cheese aren’t that hard).

My D1’s boyfriend (now fiancé) was a very picky eater when she met him freshman year of college. It is actually one of the first things she ever told me about him before I met him. She has gradually coaxed him into trying many new foods. His family LOVES her, and I think one reason is that she managed to break his picky eating habits. When I first new him, we had to worry about whether a restaurant or family dinner would have something he would like. (He never said anything, he is a very polite kid, but I wanted him to be comfortable and have food he liked). Now several years later, we never have to worry about it – he eats lots of stuff (like a “normal” person) – there are a few things he doesn’t eat, but he’s expanded a LOT.

I think you can work on this in the dining hall. Start slow, and try more stuff.