Here you are lucky to be heading to college. You’ve worked hard, saved money and are now going to get to study things you are truly interested in. How can you avoid the “Freshman 15” that seems to effect 70% of college freshman? Just being aware that weight gain is a problem for most freshman let’s you establish a plan before you fall prey to the eating pitfalls ahead.
We are going to look at 3 areas you need to be aware of in your quest for a healthy freshman year: food; sleep and exercise.
Food: Food is necessary to provide fuel to both your body and mind. Most of us go wrong here by making poor food choices. The all you can eat cafeterias that give you access to ice cream, brownies, French fries, and burgers is no help. And all those fast food choices that stay open later don’t make it any easier to prevent that late night snack attack. Food can be comforting. We often eat out of boredom, loneliness and stress. That freshman year you will experience all 3 of these.
· Always eat breakfast. Breakfast jump starts your metabolism giving energy to your body and brain. If you skip breakfast your body’s metabolism shuts down going into starvation mode meaning you will never fully wake up and be able to attack your day.
· Avoid soda, energy drinks and coffee drinks, lots of empty calories in these. Drink water and lots of water. Water fills you up and gives you 0 calories. There are some great flavored waters out there. Water will also keep your digestive tract on course.
· Eat regular meals using moderate portions. Choose 3 or 4 items fill your plate and don’t go back for seconds. If you schedule your meals you won’t end up skipping meals and then binging on poor food choices.
· Eat all of your salad first. Then go on to eat your other choices.
· Take a multi-vitamin. No matter how good our intentions few of us get all the nutrients we need.
· Alcohol is high in calories and drinking leads to bad food choices.
· Snacking in your room is convenient but not always a good thing. Replace the potato chips with pretzels or whole grain crackers. Buy a jar of peanut butter and use it with apples or crackers. Keep nuts and sunflower seeds around both are good choices. Fresh fruits and veggies mean you can’t go wrong. Munch those baby carrots or celery sticks. Have a banana on your way out the door in the morning. Popcorn and granola bars are good to have on hand. Replace the candy bars with a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, just grab a handful to keep the chocolate cravings at bay.
Sleep: Your body requires downtime in order to function efficiently.
· Establish a regular sleep schedule that you stick with a majority of the days in a week. This will allow your body to refresh itself. A normal sleep pattern will also help you avoid the late night munchies. When you stay up way beyond your bed time to study that is when the munchies and cravings are hardest to ignore, your body is screaming for fuel but what you really need is sleep.
· You will sleep better if you haven’t eaten in the 2 hours before you go to bed. That time allows your digestion to finish so that you are truly able to rest while sleeping.
Exercise: Exercise is a key component to staying healthy.
· Take advantage of your schools free gym or fitness facility. Anymore these facilities rival a really nice workout facility that you would pay big bucks for. Many times there are personal trainers on staff that can help you set up a workout routine for your specific needs. Your tuition is covering this so take advantage of all they offer.
· Join an intramural group. Whether you like bowling, bad mitten, wally ball, or tennis all of these will get you moving. Most schools carry a huge number of intramural teams. You don’t need to know a bunch of people to sign up and don’t worry about your talent level. You will be placed on a team and then get to know lots of new people. This is a great way to combat any loneliness you may be experiencing and get you exercising without feeling like exercise.
· Avoid the elevator use the stairs to get to your dorm room and classes. Stair climbing is great exercise.
· Exercise tones muscles, helps control your appetite, enhances your immune system, improves your mood by countering stress, anxiety and depression, makes you more alert and focused, gives you energy by boosting your metabolism, and helps your heart and lungs work more efficiently.
Hopefully this article will help you avoid some pitfalls and give you some ideas for making smarter choices. Have fun this freshman year, enjoy your freedom and make smart choices that keep you healthy and feeling your best.
Check out the two calculators on our site, the calories burned calculator and the lose one pound calculator to find out how many calories you burn or need to burn to lose those extra pounds. We have another page that explains how to calculate your calories burned each day.