If you have specific allergies or beliefs that affect the foods you eat, it can be hard to adjust to college dining. Luckily, Binghamton University provides a variety of ways to satisfy your dietary needs.
1. Gluten-free diets
Sara Valentino, a sophomore double-majoring in biology and Spanish, found out over a year ago that she has a gluten intolerance, which means she can’t eat wheat, barley or anything malted.
“It affects my everyday life a lot because I can’t eat what people usually just snack on, and if I do eat it, I get really sick and tired, so it kind of kills my day and makes me be really aware of what I eat,” she said.
Still, according to Valentino, “eating on campus isn’t very difficult.”
Valentino simply calls the dining hall 20 minutes ahead of time and the staff prepares her a special, gluten-free meal.
“For the most part, Binghamton does a fairly good job with helping me find choices for foods, but a lot of the time the dining hall just gives me the same stuff over and over again, so I get bored,” she said. “But for the most part they made it a lot easier than I thought it would be.”
Even though you can get gluten-free meals at any dining hall, you can only call one dining hall to prepare your meal. So if your friends decide to go somewhere else, you’re stuck.
2. Lactose intolerance
Gabriella Scull, a junior double-majoring in human development and English, is lactose-intolerant, so she can’t eat any dairy-based food, including most pasta dishes, yogurt, grilled cheese and ice cream.
“It’s difficult to be lactose intolerant eating on campus because a lot of the best food that they make in the dining hall contains dairy,” Scull said. “And I have to take Lactaid pills frequently with meals.”
Scull now lives off campus in University Plaza and finds it much easier to cater to her dietary needs.
“I know which brands have dairy-free options for people with lactose intolerance and I make my own food, so I know what is in the food that I am eating,” Scull said.
Scull did mention, however, that BU has recently offered a lot of soy milk options, such as the milk in the dining halls and at Jazzman’s.
3. Lifestyle choices
Aside from having an allergy that you can’t control, there are also food restrictions that result from personal choice.
Haley Schulman, a junior majoring in human development, has kept kosher since she was 3 years old. Keeping kosher consists of not eating pork products and shellfish, as well as not combining meat and dairy. Schulman only buys food with special packaging that says “kosher.”
“It’s definitely cool that they [BU] offer kosher food in the Kosher Korner, and I’m sure that’s great for people who live and eat exclusively on campus,” Schulman said.
Schulman now lives in Susquehanna Community and eats on campus less but finds it a bit more difficult to find kosher food off campus.
“It gets tough because there are not a ton of places around here where I can buy good kosher meat to cook on my own,” Schulman said. “I don’t eat as well here as I do at home, but I definitely get by.”
And while some choose to stay kosher, others prefer to stay animal-friendly in their diet.
Alana Brown-Goebeler, a senior majoring in biology, has been an ovo-lacto-pescetarian for six years. She does not eat meat, but still eats fish, eggs and dairy products.
“Being a vegetarian makes eating a bit difficult at times,” Brown-Goebeler said. “On campus, it was definitely hard to eat as a vegetarian because the options were limited, especially the healthier choices, and the healthier foods generally offered that weren’t just for vegetarians were more expensive.”
Brown-Goebeler lived on campus her first three years at BU but now lives off campus, where cooking her meals is much easier. Going out can be a challenge, though.
“A lot, if not all, fish items are expensive or the only vegetarian items are pastas, which I am not a huge fan of,” Brown-Goebeler said. “But most places these days have a variety of vegetarian options.”
BU tries to accommodate students’ meals to the best of its abilities — like the vegan station at the College-in-the-Woods Dining Hall and the kosher kitchen in the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center — so try to find something that will satisfy you so you’re not stuck eating eggs every day.