Published: March 24, 2016
Student waiting for food at C4C

Why is CU-Boulder considered one of the best colleges for on-campus dining? In past generations, college dining had the reputation of being unhealthy, limited and not the best food. Today, the dining halls at CU-Boulder are wholly defying that reputation. Thanks to the efforts of CU-Boulder registered dietitian nutritionist Allison Smith and her coworkers in Housing and Dining Services, CU-Boulder students can rest assured that they always will have healthy, and good, food options on campus.

Walk into the C4C and it becomes clear that CU-Boulder dining is not what you would expect to find at your run-of-the-mill college. Smith works on creating and implementing nutrition related programs and projects in all of the dining halls, as well as planning future dining options, such as will be available in the Village Center at Williams Village, set to open next January. She hopes that the Village Center, which will offer new options like all day breakfast and a juice bar, will entice even those who live far away from Will Vill to go eat there.

The prime accomplishment of Smith and her colleagues however is that at a school of more than 30,000 students, there are options for everyone: carnivores, omnivores, herbivores, those with allergies, elite athletes, those with Celiac Disease, vegans and others. As a school surrounded by one of the nation’s most foodie cities, CU-Boulder does not fall short in providing countless options. Note the labeling cards in the C4C for instance, which declare any ingredients that may be problems for those with dietary restrictions.

The reason that this is so important is that healthy eating matters for everyone of every body type.

"A common misconception is that skinny equals healthy, and that is not necessarily true," Smith said. "Health is not always proportional to body size, and more importantly, health issues can be a consequence of bad diet at any body size."

Food is wonderful medicine, and a good diet can help maintain overall health and prevent and manage medical conditions, such as immune and digestive issues, diabetes, heart disease, and mental illness, and improve mood and energy levels. (Healthy eating also helps fuel the brain for finals preparation)!

For those looking to eat healthier in the CU-Boulder dining halls, Smith has a few suggestions:

  • Keep it simple and be creative.
  • You can do a lot more with your dining experience by trying new things, mixing and matching and not being limited by one station, and thinking outside of the box.
  • Smith’s perfect plate is one-half non-starchy veggies, a quarter complex carbs (like sweet potato or brown rice), a quarter protein and a serving of healthy fat (nuts, avocado, olive oil, etc.).
  • She suggests keeping meat portions palm sized and treating fruits as snacks.

So what does Smith hope to do in the future to improve CU-Boulder students’ dining experience? More options for those with dietary restrictions are on the to-do list, as well as introducing students to NetNutrition, as online resource which would allow students to see daily menus, as well as complete ingredient lists and nutrition info for every dish available in a given day. It will be an interactive way to help student plan where and what they’d like to eat. Smith hopes that this exciting new program may be available to students as soon as next semester.

For any students interested in improving their diet, discussing nutrition, or providing suggestions on how the dining hall experience could be improved further, Smith welcomes one on one meetings. Students can schedule an appointment with her by emailing her at or calling her at 303-349-8943.