Avoiding the Freshman 15

It’s a myth that circles during fall term as new freshmen move into the dorms and Greek community, how to avoid the dreaded ‘Freshman 15’. This stereotype is usually put on more women when in fact men are just as likely to gain weight during the first year of college.

Current studies show some good news however, gaining fifteen pounds in one year is possible but it’s not the norm for freshman. Regardless, attending college in the fall is a big life change and gaining weight can be a side effect to stress due to the changing environment.

Lots of changes

In 2011, Ohio State University did a survey testing weight gain among their freshman class. Tara Thean, a writer for Time Healthland states,

Intuitively, it might make sense that certain aspects of the college lifestyle — late-night pizza runs, unlimited dining hall food, excessive drinking and long hours spent sedentary in the library — would encourage weight gain.

And the study did find that students put on a few pounds freshman year, but nowhere close to 15 lbs.

It’s a whole new environment where students don’t have their parents fussing around them and this includes watching what they eat. This open playing field for eating on a student budget and with limited resources adds a lot of changes to a person’s diet.

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Healthy habits

Joan Blake of Nutrition and You! Has written a list of healthy tips for college students looking to avoid weight gain during their education careers,

DON’T drink your calories. A 20-ounce bottle of soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks can pack over 250 calories.

Drink low fat or skim milk with your meals and water (zero calories) in between.

It’s an easy tip that can be a struggle for students especially freshman. For many this is their first time being treated as adults and all the freedom college students experience can lead to poor eating habits.

Don’t go crazy, there’s no harm in eating ice cream at 10am or pizza every night during finals week but if these habits are consistent health issues are going to develop. Take a nutrition class for a science credit, or sign up for a healthy cooking course with a friend.

You’ll learn new things, some healthy habits and it’s a great opportunity to meet new people.

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Sleep is important

Throughout numerous studies, sleep has been found to be one of the major ways to control weight. Aimee Hosler from USA Today College says,

Sleep and metabolism go hand in hand, so getting too much or too little rest can impact your weight.

Who cares when there are overnight study sessions and social engagements to attend? You can sleep when you’re dead (or when you gain enough weight that you can’t fathom doing anything else).

You might not have class until 1pm but it’s not an excuse to spend fourteen hours a day sleeping. The body needs a routine and once college is over it’s going to go be in a world of hurt if you’ve spend the last four years spending more time sleeping than anything else.