For freshmen, the infamous Freshman 15 is an enigma that remains prevalent in every higher-level institution in America. Why, you may ask? Let's do the math. In most college cafeterias, there are a variety of options available to the freshmen who are experiencing a total lack of parental supervision and freedom to do as they please, and many students jump at the chance and end up eating way too much, gaining the Freshman 15. The question is whether this is truly inevitable or not.
Let me tell you, you can avoid the weight gain and be healthier than you were before college! Here at MC's cafeteria (which we affectionately call The Caf), we have several stations available. There's the grill, pizza bar, entree line, deli bar, veggie bar, salad bar, a daily soup, and the international section. Faced with so many options, many students choose to stick with the first two or three for the sake of familiarity and simplicity. However, there is a way to tackle The Caf while getting what you want and maintaining a healthy weight. Let's begin.
1. Variety is your friend
You don't have to stick with just one section! It is a rare day in The Caf that I grab food from one section and call it a day. Here's how you do it: enter The Caf and make a loop. Check out your options, choose your favorite, and work from there! You could get an international entree like a gyro, some roasted zucchini from the vegetarian bar, a salad, and perhaps a piece of fruit. On another day, You could grab a spinach quesadilla, a cup of soup, and some veggies. Your options are plentiful. However...
2. Portion control is crucial
Just because you can stack your tray full doesn't mean you have to. It's tempting, especially at dinner time when there are endless refills, to go back and get five slices of pizza, endless piles of french fries, and cupcakes galore. We've all had days where we ate way too much and we ended up feeling like this:
Lucky for you, you'll be walking across campus too much to get to this point, but if you're not monitoring yourself, you could end up in an unhealthy state, lacking the energy you desperately need to make it through all of your classes.
3. Healthy is not as hard as you think
You don't have to restrict yourself to raw celery and carrot sticks, but don't go to the other end of the spectrum either. A few quick tips can help you a lot in the long run.
1) When visiting the salad bar, choose spinach. Spinach leaf lettuce is full of vitamin C and iron and is proven to boost your brain power and focus.
2) Try out the vegetarian bar. I've personally found the vegetarian options to be the tastiest and most filling out of my visits to The Caf.
3) Drink water! I'm sure you've heard soda is bad for you, but you didn't know it was this bad.
Your body will be forever grateful if you give it the right fuel to walk across campus in the late-summer heat.
4. It's okay to cheat sometimes
Even the most devoted workout fiend will take a cheat day, and you should too. This doesn't mean you should grab every unhealthy food in sight, shove it down your throat, and turn into a glutton. However, it's fine to have a little something special in moderation. My cheat is usually french fries or ice cream, and trust me when I say I have to work hard not to eat these every day. But, if I can do it, you can do it!
5. Make some friends
The best part about Mississippi College is the open, friendly atmosphere, and here, you will never meet a stranger. Take a chance, go up to someone you've never met, and ask if you can sit with them. Nine times out of ten you will be welcomed with open arms. Not only will you make some new friends, but the socializing also will force you to slow down while eating, meaning your body will have more time to digest the food and let you know that you're full. It's a win-win!
In the end Though...
Sometimes, there will be days in the caf where nothing sounds good, and that's where your points come in. Those are the days when you need to check out some of the other on-campus eateries like 1826 or my favorite, Pimentos! You have 200 points though, so use them wisely. (Try the Southwest Chicken Panini. You'll have no regrets!)
Know that your body will love you as long as you love your body. When you're running around campus to get to all of your classes, you'll be glad you went with the chicken caesar salad instead of the pizza and fries. Trust me, and try this for yourself. You can find healthy, delicious food in The Caf as long as you're smart about it.
Remember that above all else, your body is a holy vessel, so treat it well.