Back to School? How to Prevent the Freshman 15
It’s back to school time, which means students will be hitting the books hard, and hitting snack pantries even harder. This is especially true of new college students.
Your first year in college can be challenging enough without having to worry about the freshman 15. If this is the first time you or a loved one are attending college, then pay attention to this lesson. Our dietitian is explaining various tips and tricks to help you prevent the freshman 15.
School Yourself in Food Structure
While learning about all of those extra subjects, why not take a page from the nutrition text book and make more of an effort to structure your eating habits?
“College students do have busy schedules, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t take time to develop a structured meal plan,” says Joy Post, one of the lead dietitians for BistroMD.
“If you are a student, and want to avoid the freshman 15, it’s best to make sure that you make the time to eat at least three meals per day. I would also recommend eating at least two to three servings of high-protein snacks.”
Eating three meals is one thing, but eating healthy meals is an entirely different matter when you are in college.
“If you still want to enjoy some of the food staples of college life, like pizza and burgers, there are healthier alternatives,” says Joy. “For example, you can make a better-for-you burger by using lean ground beef, and broiling it in your oven, instead of grilling it.”
Serve on a whole wheat bun, with tomatoes and lettuce, and you can still get your college fix, without adding on tons of calories.
Avoid the All-You-Can Eat Mentality
If you are a new student and live on campus, chances are, you probably have a meal plan.
“Meal plans are a big contributor to the freshman 15," says Joy. "Most on-campus dining rooms have buffets, which encourages you to stuff your face."
If you still want your meal plan money to be well-spent, make sure to cover your plate with at least 50 percent vegetables and fruit.
Believe or not, most college dining rooms do offer healthier selections. Many universities and colleges have a variety of greens and fresh fruit available at salad bars, and various snack stations.
If you fear you will totally ignore your veggies, fear not, here is a smart, but easy tip…
“Always go to the salad bar FIRST,” says Joy.
Don’t Succumb to Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is tough to avoid, but it may be a necessary step in order to prevent the anguish caused by the freshman 15.
“Don’t let your group studying sessions for Intro to Philosophy turn into a three hour research project at the local pizza place,” says Joy. “Many college students pack on the freshman 15 pretty quickly, simply because their friends are eating the foods they crave.”
If you are going to eat out with friends, try to balance out your meal with something a little healthier.
“If you go out for pizza, don’t eat more than one slice, and save some room for a green, leafy salad,” says Joy.
Also, limit the times you go out to eat. Set a budget for spending, and commit to a plan of only eating out once every week.
Beer, Wine, and Soda: These Add Up Too!
It’s no secret that college kids love alcohol. In fact, beer, wine, and soda could be considered a college student's dream food group.
“Liquid calories add up, especially when it comes to the freshman 15,” says Joy. “By far, alcohol is responsible for more students experiencing the freshman 15 than anything else. That’s why it’s important to monitor how much you drink."
If you know you will be attending an event or a party on a certain day or night, pledge that you won’t drink in the time leading up to that. When you attend the actual party or event, try to avoid drinking too much, as binge drinking can seriously help you pack on pounds, and can harm your safety and health.
“When attending an event or a party, try to seek out a lower calorie option,” says Joy. “Beer is popular among college events, so be sure to drink the lighter variety. Certain companies often sell beer that is around 55 calories.”
If you are going to drink, though, please do so responsibly.
For more tips from our experts, please visit the healthy facts section of our website.
Next Article: Featured Meal
Steak, Without the Fear of Fat