The “freshman 15” is the common name for the weight gain that students often see during their first year of college. In this era when food has more “cred,” there are more dining options than years ago. Research indicates that the “freshman 15” is both fact and fallacy. College freshmen do gain weight in the first year, but of course it might not add up to 15 pounds. Studies show that typically, students see a gain of four to 10 pounds during the first year of college.
College is exciting. There are plenty of diversions and food options for students to consider. This year, it’s not just about what to eat, but also where are you eating? Some folks may be in the dining hall or dorm, while others may be remote—sequestered to a space for college in their parent’s home, courtesy of COVID-19.
In 2020, typical first year challenges have been amplified by the pandemic, protests and politics. College this year adds an entirely new set of stressors, along with making adult decisions, meeting new people and sometimes loneliness. Each of these can open the door to emotional eating. And with emotional eating, one can certainly put pounds on without breaking a sweat.
Another key thing that 2020 has shown us is that folks must take their health and lifestyle choices seriously. The following tips will help you make the grade by choosing healthy food habits, more exercise and moderation, helping to ensure positive results for a lifetime.
Fifteen Tactics to Fight the “Freshman 15.”
- Include a variety of foods in your diet—all things in moderation
- Choose colorful, nutrient filled fruits and vegetables—like pomegranates, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, greens and more
- Don’t skip breakfast. High-protein foods like cottage cheese, peanut butter, eggs and Canadian bacon will keep you feeling full longer
- Choose low-density fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges and other fruits, along with cucumbers, celery and radishes. Low-density foods have fewer calories for a larger portion, and keep you feeling full longer
- Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with a simply prepared lean meat or fish, or plant protein such as beans, legumes or tofu, and the last quarter with a whole grain like brown rice, couscous or quinoa
- Choose broth-based soups over creamy soups—they are lower in fat and calories and will help you to feel full
- Skip those all-you-can-eat buffets—this is an easy way to overeat
- Stay hydrated. Drink 8 glasses of water per day. Many times, when you think you’re hungry, you may just be thirsty. And, don’t forget you do not want to drink your calories!
- Eat before heading out to party
- If you are of the legal age to consume alcoholic beverages, drink plenty of water first and don’t overindulge in alcohol. Mixed drinks and beer are high in calories
- Include at least 30-45 minutes of exercise in your daily routine, three-to-four times per week
- Avoid late-night pizza parties and snacking. Keep healthy snacks on hand, such as dried or fresh fruit, Greek style yogurt, low-fat cheese, low-fat popcorn and nuts
- Snack wisely—an ounce of nuts help keep your energy up, and are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants
- Weigh-in on a scale regularly; this will help keep the pounds from adding on unnoticed. And, don’t forget to nix those baggy clothes!
- Get a buddy. By pairing up with a friend, you’ll have a built-in support system and you can encourage one another to fight the “Freshman 15.”