Avoiding the Dreaded Freshman 15

By Amanda Ferrara, Student at New York University

The dreaded Freshman 15 is no joke — most of you (unfortunately) will experience it firsthand.

While this is a very scary fact, it's also one that can be prevented with some simple lifestyle changes.

According to an article from the Daily Beast, female freshmen gain weight 36 times faster than women in the same age group that do not go to school. Living on a campus and eating only what you can buy in a dining hall means that your diet habits will most likely change. In order to avoid the Freshman 15, follow these tips and make the possibility of gaining weight freshman year disappear!

1. Eat healthy. 

As obvious as that seems, try walking in a dining hall filled with all of those foods that you dreamt about at the kitchen table when your mother put steamed veggies in front of you. Pizza, French toast, burritos and cheese fries are certainly all delicious but definitely unhealthy. Fight the temptation and limit the amount of junk food you take from the dining hall; sticking to a balanced diet with meals similar to what you have been eating before college will keep your weight and metabolism stable.

2. Try to maintain a constant eating schedule.

This means eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the “normal” meal hours. While this may be hard with class schedules, eating your meals as close to the appropriate time as possible will keep you on schedule and help prevent cravings at odd hours throughout the day. It will also deter you from getting too hungry, which could cause you to overindulge and eat too much at once.

3. Keep only healthy snacks available to you for late-night studying.

As freshmen, you will definitely find yourself occasionally studying late into the night. Snacking during intensive studying is normal but to prevent consuming an excess amount of unhealthy calories, only keep healthy and light snacks such as trail mix, dried fruit and yogurt within reach of your desk.

4. Keep busy!

You will have a bit of free time in college and for some, free time usually means being bored (and boredom equals activities such as watching movies and snacking). Join a club, get a job and make study dates with friends: All of these will keep you busy and take your mind off of the couch potato snacking that you could be doing.

5. Have an exercise schedule.

It is really important to stay active, especially when your dining habits are in transition. This includes going to the gym, joining a sports team or taking a morning jog. If you go to school in a city, consider walking to class on days with nice weather instead of taking a bus or subway. A tip from my personal experience: I volunteered at an animal shelter my sophomore year to walk dogs through trails in the woods. It was a great form of exercise as well as a perfect stress buster; I definitely recommend picking up a similar hobby!

6. Don't reward yourself with food.

We all do it: We feel stressed during finals week and we buy a chocolate bar, we finish a giant project and go out for a celebratory, greasy dinner. While celebrating and treating yourself occasionally is fine, do not get into the habit of using food as a reward: It is a hard one to break!

7. Remember that alcohol has calories, too!

Mixed drinks are loaded with calories with no nutritional value so the more you drink, the more calories you are consuming in a day (not to mention the food you will crave and eat later that night). Also it is important to recognize that just because shots are smaller, this does not necessarily mean that you are consuming less calories. A shot of vodka, for example, could cost you 50 to 100 calories.

8. Drink plenty of water.

Water plays a key role in keeping your metabolism on track. In addition, people often confuse the feeling of being hungry with being thirsty. Carry a bottle of water with you to class and drink a glass before every meal. This will ensure that you do not overeat because you are thirsty and you will also stay hydrated throughout the day. If this isn’t motivation enough, just remember that water helps keep your skin clear!

So there you have it, eight ways to combat the infamous Freshman 15. Keep these in mind as you go through your freshman year (and the rest of college) to maintain wholesome eating habits and a healthy weight!

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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