The Freshman Fifteen, or College Fifteen, are the fifteen pounds that recent high school graduates gain during their initial year or two in college. This widely documented phenomenon in health care is easier to prevent than to later combat through weight loss. The following guide provides twenty steps to helping you—or your child—avoid the Freshman Fifteen and continue with lifelong personal health care.
Choose your dorm food carefully
If you’re on a dorm diet plan, choose the lighter portions over the heavy portions; for instance, mashed potatoes over French fries. Also, there’s nothing wrong with asking for extra vegetables instead of rice.
Watch what’s in your care packages
Parents often send care packages to their college students they may not necessarily coincidence with health care standards. If your parents are sending you weekly chocolate chip cookies, consider calling and asking for a healthier alternative.
Avoid late night eating
Snacking is a great for a healthy metabolism; students should try to eat 5-6 small portions of food a day. But if you’re eating pizza at midnight with your favorite soda and candy, this is going to pile up your freshman fifteen exceptionally fast.
Control your stress binging
College stress hits most students hard; confronted with classes, homework, due reports, and new social lives, students may turn to excessive snacking to cope. If you’re snacking during your studying or homework time, try non-buttered popcorn and baby carrots over that bag of potato chips or candy.
Take advantage of your university’s sports activities and/or gym
Universities recognize the national dilemma of the Freshman Fifteen and are offering ways to prevent it, such as campus gyms and free sports activities. If you incorporate these into your social life instead of “whenever you have the time to go,” you’ll find yourself living actively more often.
Limit the alcohol
Alcohol is high in calories . If you limit your alcohol intake at college, you will slow down your Freshman Fifteen. Additional studies show that alcohol can develop a wide array of eating disorders and vitamin and mineral deficiencies in college students.
Don’t turn to food if you’re homesick
Studies show that many college students suffering from homesickness will divert from their personal health care needs and eat excessive, junky foods.
Don’t pull all-nighters
Your body, and your brain, needs sleep in order to function; this includes your body’s metabolism and your brain’s ability to burn calories from sitting activities like reading and studying. Not only are you exhausting your metabolism and calorie burning efficiency with all-nighters, you’re probably binging on sugary foods to keep yourself awake.
Skip the fast food
Fast food is convenient and tempting, but it’s high calorie and lacks nutritional value. Try to prepare meals for yourself in the dorm or eat at healthier locations.
Don’t eat while watching television
If you eliminate eating while you’re resting and instead set aside meal times and eating when active, you’ll find that you’ll have more control over your dietary needs.
Only use vending machines to get water
Vending machine food and soda is a killer when it comes to weight gain. It’s okay to get a bottle of water from a vending machine, though.
Don’t obsess over calories
Obsessive calorie counting can lead to eating disorders like anorexia. Remember that schools and restaurants have calorie menus available to help fight obesity; if you’re a healthy weight, there’s no need to check every single morsel going into your mouth.
Don’t use unhealthy means to lose weight
Since 2000, the number of students that have taken laxatives, resorted to vomiting or started excessively dieting has increased from 28% to 38%. If you’re starting to gain weight, don’t resort to unhealthy methods and eating disorders; just try to adjust your activity level and replace your candy bar with an apple.
Don’t develop a body-image issue
College students are prone to developing eating disorders while over-stressing about their body-image with their peers. Dating is huge in college, but how you look does not have to rule your life.
Choose the healthy high-calorie option
It’s okay for bread to be a part of your diet. Instead of eating white bread though, try the whole grain bread that’s rich in vitamins.
College is all about rushing, but if you eat too fast, you’ll consume more than your body needs. Eat slowly and listen to when your stomach tells you it’s no longer hungry.
Don’t forget the essentials
When you’re preparing for the financial aspect of college, don’t forget the essentials, such as towels, sheets, blankets, and a pan to cook your meals in. Students that arrive to college unprepared often cut back on their money for food with 99 cent cheeseburgers. There are even scholarships available to help out with these expenditures.
Figure out your dietary schedule as soon as possible
The reason it’s the Freshman Fifteen and not the Sophomore, Junior, or Senior Fifteen is because college freshmen often find they have no idea how to budget and handle their dietary plans. Figure out a healthy way of eating the moment you arrive to college instead of scrambling throughout your first year.
Don’t let your diet rob you of energy
If you’re eating too little in Freshman Fifteen paranoia, you will get tired, and you will not perform up to par. Make sure to get enough calories to maintain a healthy metabolism and energy level.
Resist going back for additional servings. Enough said.
Some additional facts about the Freshman Fifteen:
Studies show that most students gain 5 pounds, not 15 pounds. Fifteen is an average number, suggesting that there are students that gain much more weight.
Many freshmen, particularly men, eat fewer calories than they are supposed to due to monetary limitations. Others eat the appropriate amount of calories, but lack the nutritional value.
If you have stories about your Freshman Fifteen experiences, please feel free to submit them and we’ll include another blog entry with reader opinions.