Maintaining Control in the Caf
The Botswick Marketplace, better known as “the Caf” at Bucknell, offers every type of food a college student could wish for. From the salad bar to Mongo Bongo, the egg bar to Bravimiso, there is definitely something for everyone. However, variety can often lead to temptation. Coming into my freshman year, I knew I would be on the unlimited meal plan, giving me the ability to swipe into this food heaven as many times a day as I wished with no restrictions. I feared the infamous freshman fifteen. A few weeks into school I had become obsessed with the Caf, not only for its food but for its atmosphere. The Caf was a place where freshman would recognize one another and a place where all my friends could sit around a big, round table for multiple hours having a great time as we avoided the library. However, with my Caf obsession I also had to learn how to avoid falling into the Caf trap: grabbing multiple plates, side dishes, treats, and drinks – just because you can. Below are some guidelines for how to enjoy, but not overindulge, at the Caf:
Save one hand for a plate, one for water
This is a pretty simple rule to follow. Avoid taking too many dishes by allowing yourself only one plate and reserving the other hand for a glass of water. Our bodies also often mistake hunger for thirst so it is important to drink a glass of water as soon as you sit down.
Divide and Conquer
Try to divide your plate into thirds. One for protein (think chicken, eggs, tofu), one third for a brightly colored health food (think fruit, vegetables) and one for a whole grain. For breakfast, I loved eggs, an apple, and whole wheat toast with peanut butter, and for dinner I found Mongo Bongo to be a good way to get simple grilled chicken and a variety of vegetables all in one delicious dish. Just don’t go overboard with the sauces – those can pack in a day’s worth of sodium if you aren’t careful!
One of the hard aspects of the unlimited meal plan is that everything is at your disposal. It is easy to graze by the chip bowl, pick up a few, do another lap, go back for some more…it can be a vicious cycle. However, if you know you want chips, try sitting down to enjoy the chips or your body won’t register that you’re eating. Whether it be chips, tater tots, or fries, if you know you’re craving them, be sure to actually sit down and enjoy ‘em.
One way to avoid the temptation of swiping back into the Caf for a snack, which could potentially turn into a full meal, is to grab a piece of fruit before you leave in case you get hungry in between classes.
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Despite the many drink choices at the “hydration station,” try to stick to water and tea. Choosing soda or sweetened iced tea can add hundreds of calories to your meals without you realizing it.
Share the Sweets
One of the hardest parts about leaving the caf was passing the dessert table on the way out. It is so easy to grab a mini-muffin before class or a cookie for the walk to the library. Always ask yourself before grabbing, “do I actually want this?” If the answer is yes, share with a friend. I found that even half of a delicious M&M cookie satisfied any craving without the guilt after.
Navigating the Bison
As a sophomore who is no longer on the unlimited meal plan, I’ve found making healthy choices in the Bison to be much easier. When you walk in, you aren’t greeted by an assortment of steaming dishes ready to be eaten, but rather salad bar lines and menu boards that force you to consider what you actually want for your meal. The Bison offers the same great variety, but once you have your meal, you don’t have the option to get up and grab some more without placing another order. Below are some of the popular, yummy, and healthy options to grab at the Bison:
- Spinach based salad: Unlike at the caf, the Bison has a section just for spinach, which is best to use as the base for a salad. The salad bar offers tons of healthy toppings like beets, peppers, and tofu.
- Grilled chicken: An order of grilled chicken breast can be added on top of any salad or eaten plain for a lean protein option. The Bison also offers grilled chicken sandwiches, which are still delicious and much healthier than the chicken fingers.
- Quinoa: Quinoa, which is a grain-like seed, has been a huge hit lately. Not only is it full of protein but it also has a low-glycemic index, meaning it will keep you fuller longer. The quinoa station also allows you to customize your order by adding in other commodities to make a delicious dish. I personally love adding in smoked salmon, cucumber, edamame, and a little balsamic vinegar.
- Vegetable of the day: It is so easy to throw in a side order for the vegetable of the day. Studies have found that college students, on average, do not get near the amount of vegetables in their daily diets. The Bison makes it easy to get your veggie fix for only $1.65!
Some of the same rules apply to the Bison as the Caf; avoid chugging calories, practice sharing desserts, and always ask yourself if you’re really hungry before getting that second dish!
Dining in college is as much a social act as it is a necessary act. Focus on not only enjoying your delicious – but healthy! – options but also on the company of your friends, and embrace the meal time you have together before hitting the library.