The essence of healthy eating is a diet centered on real food and balanced with variety. Cal Dining team is here to support our campus community by offering the options, flexibility, and resources you need to keep you energised, motivated and healthy while at Cal!


Eat Well at Cal Dining


The abundance of choices in an all-you-can-eat dining hall can add complexity to healthy eating. Here are six friendly tips from Cal Dining to keep you on track:


·         Small portions, with variety. This doesn’t mean you must eat everything your dining hall has to offer every day. Try out new Cal Dining locations, platforms, dishes and offerings throughout the course of, say, a week. The more varied your food intake is, the more likely that you nutrient intake is balanced and complete. You just may discover new favorites in the process!


·         Fruits and veggies please. Always make room on your plate for vegetables, in sides or mixed dishes, cooked or raw. Learn to love them for the color, flavor, crunch, and yes, the loaded nutrients! Hand fruits are offered throughout the day in the dining halls, feel free to take one on your way out for snacking later.


·         Try whole grains, if you haven’t. Whole grains including brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta are always offered in the dining halls as alternatives to white rice, white bread and regular pasta. Whole grains deliver much more nutrients to your body in the same serving and will satisfy you longer. Not sure if you like the nutty taste? Find out by taking a few bites in your next meal.


·         Water for thirst. Water, carbonated water, as well as fruits and/or vegetable infused water are offered in the dining halls throughout the day. Soda, lemonade, fruit drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages have added sugar and will sneak calorie in without you even taking notice. Switching to water may be the single most important step you can take to avoid the Freshmen 15.


·         Lean protein, less processed meats.  Cal Dining takes pride in the lean protein we offer every day including fish, beef, turkey, chicken and seafood, as well as plant-based protein such as tofu, quinoa, beans and lentils. Put these on your plate more often. Set a limit for yourself on processed meats including bacon, sausage, hotdog and cold cuts.


·         Slow down when sitting down.  Cultivate your food smartness by eating slower to enjoy the taste and textures, and paying attention to how you feel. Give some attention to your diet and learn what works for your body and what doesn't.


Cal Dining Nutrition Highlights

  • All Cal Dining locations feature a nutritionally balanced menu that supports the healthy eating plate

  • We source local and organic products when possible. Please visit the sustainability section of our site for more information about our sustainable and nutritious food sourcing practices.

  • We minimize use of trans-fat containing products with the goal to eliminate trans fat from Cal Dining

  • In general you’ll find better-for-you whole grain alternatives such as whole wheat breads, brown rice, whole wheat pasta in addition to white breads, white rice and regular pasta

  • All locations offer vegan and vegetarians options for all meals

  • All dining commons offer milk alternatives including soy and almond milk

  • For best hydration without added sugar, fill your glass with the infused water, water or carbonated water located in all dining halls

  • Visit Cafe 3 - our plant-forward dining hall, if you are in the mood for more vegan and vegetarian choices, you may also enjoy the Mediterranean bar and Kosher offerings there

  • Check out our produce stand inside the Golden Bear Cafe during hours of operation

Fill Your Healthy Eating Plate

Healthy Eating Plate pie chart The more veggies — and the greater the variety — the better. Potatoes and french fries don’t count.

Eat a variety of whole grains like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread or pasta, and brown rice. Feeling adventurous? Try out the other mainstay grains on our menu such as quinoa.

Choose fish, poultry, beans, and nuts. Limit red meat and cheese; avoid bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats.

Eat plenty of fruits of all colors. They are great as snacks on the go.

Drink water, tea, or coffee with little or no sugar. Limit milk/dairy to 1-2 cups a day. Avoid sugar sweetened beverages.

Use healthy oils like Olive oil at the salad bar. Cal Dining is proud of our efforts eliminating partially hydrogenated oil or trans fat from our menu.

* Adapted from Healthy Eating Plate created by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Copyright © 2011, Harvard University

Nutrition Information

If you want to plan, analyze, and track your diet while on a Cal Dining meal plan, you may consider browsing the nutrition facts of Cal Dining’s menus on MyFitnessPal  website and App.  

Please reach out to Jaylene Tang, our staff Dietitian by emailing if you want to know more about the nutritional profile of particular menu items, want to improve your diet while on a meal plan, or just have a general nutrition/wellness related question!