Avoid the Freshman 15
The saying “Freshman 15” has been around for quite a a long time. I bet your parents and even grandparents have joked about it on campus just like we did. However, it actually is a real problem for our younger population. A recent study shows that on average, students gain around 7 pounds their first year of college. And unfortunately, weight gain typically continues into the sophomore year of college as well.
As we know, weight gain is not good for our health, especially our college students. Weight gain can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, depression, and low self esteem, just to name a few. We also know that obesity is a major concern for our younger population. According to a recent study at Auburn University, 31% of college students are overweight!
What can cause our college students to pack on the pounds?
- Leaving the nest, developing their own eating habits, and making their own food choices as far as meals and grocery shopping.
- Stress! Our students are encountering new towns, experiences, people, and a different level of school work from high school. Stress can push us to eat savory, high-calorie foods in order to fill emotional needs, even when we are not hungry.
- Staying up and studying, which causes late night eating
- Limited funds, choosing cheaper foods with a high calorie, fat, cholesterol, and sodium content i.e. Ramen noodles and frozen heat-up dinners
- Increase in alcohol consumption (empty calories)
How to combat your weight gain in college:
- Stay hydrated for your long walks across campus. Choose water over sodas. A lot of universities do not mind water bottles as long as they are able to be sealed in classrooms
- Pack enough healthy meals to last you your day on campus. It is very tempting to run and grab food from the fast food joint they have on campus, but keeping healthy options with you will decrease feeling the need to make a quick run. Some examples are apples, pretzels, fresh veggies, or a sandwich (wheat bread, no cheese, low fat turkey)
- Eat before you go grocery shopping! This will decrease the urge to buy unwanted foods, and it’s good on your wallet and waist! If you’re on a budget, choose the pre-packaged frozen veggies you can heat up. These are healthier than noodles, and better than canned veggies.
- If you must eat out, educate yourself on healthy fast food options.
- Avoid energy drinks on your late night study parties. Energy drinks are packed with a lot of calories and high amounts of sugar. Choose coffee instead.
- Late night snack? Replace oil with applesauce for your brownies.
- Get active!!
- Intramural Sports
- Walk around campus instead of riding the bus
- Take advantage of the gym located on your campus. Most universities have state-of-the-art gyms!
- If your college does not have a gym, get creative! Frisbee Golf, Flag Football, Frisbee Football, or jog or run in well-lit areas.
College is the best 4 (or 5) years of your life. Make them count!
– Nathan Mikeska, BS, CPT, CHC