Guide to Healthy Eating at Stetson / How to Prevent the Freshman 15

Here’s How to Prevent the Freshman 15

Carmen Cruz

Let’s be honest, mindful eating can be difficult. Add on top of that the sudden influx of external stressors, plus the reduction of dietary choices, and you’ve got yourself a whole new source of anxiety. 


For those of us who experience food allergies, try to stick to alternative diets, or just want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, eating at college can be a struggle. But fear not; your upperclassmen have curated a guide to help you through it. Here are some top tips and tricks based on the personal experiences of vegans, vegetarians, and individuals with food allergies at Stetson. 


If you feel like the options on campus for restricted diets are limited, that’s because they are. Unless you’re willing to go nuts at the salad bar in The Commons every day, you’re going to have to get creative.


Returners in-the-know will be happy to learn that the CUB’s noodle and stir-fry station, which had been shut down the past year or so, is back in full force. They have great vegetarian options, as well as some decent variety, so definitely don’t sleep on it. The grill station also has some options to consider: their veggie burgers are nothing to sneer at (just ask if they have eggs in them because sometimes the answer is yes) and their grilled chicken breasts offer a creative way to eat healthier. Eat it with veggies on the side, put it in a salad, or make it into a sandwich. 


Stetson’s G-8 station, which is their answer to food allergens, is entirely hit or miss. Every now and then, you’ll luck out and score something dynamic and flavorful (like the ever-popular BBQ ribs, for example), but for the most part, that station’s offerings are devastatingly bland at best and suspiciously undercooked at worst. Even more concerningly, I’ve known people with food allergies who stuck to this station for their own safety, only to find the meal to have been cross-contaminated. Long story short: always ask about your specific food allergy if you have one, even at this apparently “safe” station. And even then, odds are you’ll need more than this one station to solve all your problems. 


Einstein’s has some good options on the whole. Their salads are very good, and they offer some vegan options like their Avocado Veg Out sandwich and avocado bagel. Pro tip: this is also home to the least terrible coffee on campus. It’s a great option for breakfast and lunch that’ll give you a break from The Commons; just be mindful of their earlier hours (they close just after lunch most days). 


Hatter Streats–which replaced BYOB in the Hat Rack–boasts a rotating menu of diverse options. At present, they serve up an array of Asain-inspired treats, from stir-fry’s, to dumplings, to egg rolls. For those so inclined, tofu substitutions are available. Our staff standout? Their boba tea. 


If your diet is especially constricting for whatever reason, then you might be better off cooking most of your own meals. Each dorm hall has a community kitchen, which, yes, can be a pain, but isn’t as bad to use as you’d think. I’ve seen many a vegan meal prep in community kitchens, and it seems to work for them. Plus, you’d be surprised what tools you can use in the comfort of your own dorm room. Microwaves and mini-fridges are an obvious staple, but surprise standouts include Instapots, electric mini grills/skillets, rice cookers, and toaster ovens, all of which offer a wide variety of possibilities. Buzzfeed’s Tasty app offers a ton of quick and easy recipes, as does Tiktok and Instagram. And for those so inclined, downtown DeLand hosts a weekly farmers market every Friday from 6-9 pm that features vendors with fresh produce, locally sourced honey, and artisanal ingredients. 


Going out to eat? We’ve got you covered. Buddha Bowls offers legendary acai bowls, just be ready to pay for it because she ain’t cheap. Boston Coffee, Wrap it Up, and Manzano’s offer really good salads and sandwiches at reasonable prices. Burger King’s Impossible Whopper (which is vegetarian) also comes highly recommended, as does the variety at Chipotle. Chinese places like Tops offer a surprising array of vegan and vegetarian options at affordable prices. And my personal fav, Pho Noodle Company, hosts a myriad of healthy options for those seeking a more formal dining experience. 


So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sudden need to think about what you’re going to eat day after day, just know that it gets easier. And while it can indeed be challenging and repetitive on the road to healthy eating, with practice and a little creativity, you too shall conquer the mountain.