It's easy to grab a burger and an order of fries from the dining hall without really thinking of the healthier options that might be available. But with Dining Services' Eat Right program, finding healthier options may be easier than you think. 

Eat Right, a monthly program designed to showcase healthy food options available in dining, will hold their next food sampling event Jan. 26 in Tom John Food Shop, located in Kinghorn Hall, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Eat Right started three years ago and features a different healthy food sample at a different location each month. 

Menus and nutrition facts for all items prepared by Ball State Dining are available on NetNutrition . Students can see what's being served at each location each day, and they can view calories, allergens and other important nutrition facts.

Thursday’s event will allow students to taste pasta with feta, tomatoes, olives, spinach and olive oil.

Suzanne Clem, the marketing director for dining, said this increase in healthy food samplings is in response to students' focus on healthier options.

“Food samplings have been a part of our interaction with students for a long time, but we wanted a way to give the healthy samplings their own identity, and we wanted them to take place more regularly to match the increasing interest in healthy eating on campus,” Clem said.

The sampling events supplement social media posts featuring #EatRightAtBSU and a webpage with healthy meal ideas at each dining location. Clem said dining tries to choose sample items students may not realize are available or would be hesitant to buy.

“It gives students a chance to try out an item before they commit to purchasing something. Many of our locations offer custom areas where a student can literally make hundreds of combinations from the fresh ingredients available,” Clem said. “When we do samplings in those areas, we try to brainstorm a combination of ingredients that the student might not have thought to put together on their own. We want to make it as easy as possible for students to explore healthy options on campus and branch out from their normal dining routines.”

Ana Lisa Eberline manages Tom John Food Shop, and this will be her second Eat Right event. She said her staff loves interacting with students, and Eat Right gives them another opportunity to engage.

“We hope this month's event will draw in some new faces and let us show off our customizable menu options and dedicated staff,” Eberline said. 

Eberline thinks the Eat Right events help students think about spicing up old favorites, like pasta, with new ingredients.

“Pasta covered in alfredo and topped with cheese, although delicious, doesn't scream healthy eating. If you're trying to make healthy choices and want pasta, you can get pasta. Just remember to add veggies too," she said. "Tomatoes, olives and feta all have distinct flavors and textures that can help break up the monotony of your typical marinara-covered pasta.”

Clem said dining loves creating flavorful, healthy dining experiences for students, and the goal of Eat Right is to make the healthy variety of options Ball State offers visible to students.

“We know from feedback that our students are interested in healthy options on campus, and we know that variety is really important to them. Sometimes when we're in a hurry to grab food, coming up with healthy combinations isn't the first thing on our minds — but the more times we can expose students to the healthy options available, the more likely it is that those healthy options are going to pop into their heads when they're deciding what to order,” Clem said.