A common question from young guests is “How do I avoid the Freshman 15?” I will be honest, I often feel like this age group is looking for an easy answer. Ultimately, it comes down to priorities. If your goal is to stay healthy and fit, then your actions have to fit that goal. Here is a link to an article for more information. My advice would be to:
1. Stay active. Incoming freshman may come from a background of high school sports, or at least they have had a set social group in which to stay active. Moving to a new place outside of their comfort zone may contribute to a sedentary lifestyle. Find fun, social and easy ways to stay active like joining an intramural sports team, walking to class, finding a new running partner or using the university’s fitness center.
2. Keep the plate in mind. Eating in the dining hall will provide numerous options. With food so widely available, it may be easy to overeat. Stick to the plate rule, 1/2 fruits and veggies, 1/4 whole grain and 1/4 lean protein. Keep snacks like whole grain crackers, nuts, trailmix, fruits and veggies in dorm rooms.
3. Eat consistently. Without mom to prepare meals, new freshmen may forget to eat. Start the day with a healthy breakfast to set a positive, healthy tone for the day. Don’t go longer than 5 hours in between meals and build in snacks if needed. If you go too long without eating, you will be overly hungry, choose unhealthy options, and overeat. Also, attentiveness to class and school work will improve when you fuel your body properly.
4. Moderation. While I think all college students should enjoy their college experience, partying, drinking and food can become out of balance. The 90/10 rule still applies here, balance that 10% with healthy behaviors the other 90%.
5. Cope without food. The transition from high school to college can be an emotional one. Many students that had no problem with emotional eating before find themselves consumed by it. It is easy to turn to food when stressed, bored, lonely or tired. The key is to find alternative coping mechanisms to deal with these new emotions.
You would be hard pressed to find an older adult that doesn’t wish they had adopted healthier behaviors earlier in life. For college students, there is no time like the present! Commit to taking care of yourself and the rest will fall into place.
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD