The W&M First Year Experience

Eating with a Special Diet

June 15, 2016 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hello all! My name is Alexis Plofchan, and I am a rising senior at William & Mary studying Economics and Data Analytics. I am one of the 10 Orientation Area Directors (OAD) and have been #blessed to be assigned to the Botetourt Complex along with my favorite human, Patrick Linehan! You won’t miss us come orientation because our average height is 6’2”, and we have been told that we rock the black polos better than the other eight OADs.

alexis

Coming into college I had just found out I was gluten intolerant and also needed to cut back on my intake of sugar and eat all my meals as clean as possible. I transferred from a big state school where, for a year, I essentially did not follow my diet at all because I found it too hard to do so. I did not have much guidance in how to find what was good for me on campus and when I did manage to find something that fit with all my various restrictions, it tasted like plastic. However, that changed when I came to William & Mary. I didn’t find it as hard to find food, and the food wasn’t horrible to eat!

This blog post follows one that a fellow OAD, Biddie, wrote a few weeks ago, where she talked about the food options in Williamsburg. However, this one focuses more on how to navigate diets, allergies, or just general food preferences one may have. Hopefully, this will help with any initial nerves some of you may have about having to stick to food restrictions in dining halls and give you the resources to reach out to people who may help along the way.


ON-CAMPUS

The Dining Halls – Sadler, the Caf and the Market Place: Those who have food preferences like vegan and vegetarian can find food in the vegan/vegetarian sections. I am not vegan or vegetarian, but I have many friends who are and often times come back to the table with a better looking plate than what I have found for myself. The options in this station often include kale, beans, pita, cooked veggies, and much more. Make sure to ask the dining services staff if you are looking for any specific food and see if they are able to get that food later in the semester.

Those of you who have allergies and need to ensure that your food has not been contaminated like I do should absolutely reach out to the campus dietitian and plan to meet with her soon after you arrive on campus. In general, being an advocate for yourself in college is essential in order to be successful. However, in terms of finding food to eat and being able to enjoy that food, being proactive is going to go a long way. I have found that Dining Services is extremely responsive when it comes to accommodating, but they can’t help unless they know what you need.

You can click here for more information about special diets through Dining Services.

Swemromas: Being able to grab food when studying is essential to surviving exam week! Luckily, Swemromas has some much needed gluten free options that will hold you over before you are able to get a substantial meal! Some of the best gluten free cookies I have ever had were first found in Swemromas and are often times gone within a week because everyone (gluten free or not) love them! They mark all the food in ways that ensure you know if you can eat them or not depending on your allergy. Plus, you can use your Flex!


OFF-CAMPUS

The Daily Grind: The Daily Grind (typically referred to as the Grind) is great at accommodating for food allergies. They have veggie options, gluten free bread and are extremely careful if you tell them you have any sort of allergy. The food there is some of the best on campus, and the environment is great to sit and do some readings for classes. If you are lucky, they have freshly made gluten free pastries that test the boundaries of mixing foods but turn out amazing—like the chocolate chip orange muffin I had the other day. I tend to treat myself to food at the Grind every once in a while in order to look forward to something nice after an exam or a paper! If I had it my way and had the funds, then I would eat there every day!

Aromas: Like the Grind, the off-campus Aromas’ location offers a variety of great food like the breakfast sandwiches and BLTs; you can substitute for gluten free bread or get a variety of vegetarian options. They also make sure to take into consideration any allergies you might have. Just make sure to mention it when you order! They have amazing desserts and pastries that are dairy free, nut free, and gluten free. They aren’t always available, but there will be many days when you are lucky and get to treat yourself with a tasty snack.

The Cheese Shop: The Cheese Shop being thoughtful and accommodating for any and all dietary accommodations is a blessing because of how great their sandwiches with house dressing are! I have never had any issues when ordering food and have noticed the extra time they take in preparing it in order to ensure there is not contamination.

Food for Thought: All my friends will tell you—I have an unhealthy obsession with this restaurant. It is about two miles down the road, which makes it a little too far to walk to (unless you are trying to get a big workout in) but only about five minutes by car. Each of the food and meal options spell out what allergies may be affected by the food. They are extremely attentive when it comes to dietary restrictions and work hard to accommodate any changes or substitutions you may request. They divide their plates up by color where each color represents a different allergy. For example, a dark blue plate means it is gluten free. I love Food for Though because of how many options there are for me and how much I feel like I am getting a great meal for a great price.


OTHER OPTIONS

If you come to campus and find you are not satisfied with any options that you are able to eat and cannot figure out what to do, then there is always the option of cooking meals in your dorm kitchen. You could make it a roommate or hall-mate bonding experience and make meals once a week that will last the whole week! Make sure to tell your RA about any restrictions so they can be aware when doing hall socials. You don’t want to be the only one unable to eat something!


In short, make sure to explore all options and ask the dining service staff as many questions as you want in order to ensure getting substantial meals. There are a number of resources and food options for students on- and off-campus. You just need to make sure that you seek them out and are proactive in your approach.

I am very excited to have you join the Tribe so soon!

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