It’s true, the Freshman 15, 20, and 30 even is a real thing. Why? Well, for many reasons. We no longer have our mom’s (or dad’s) healthy cooking, we are rushing between classes so we eat the fastest and often unhealthiest food available, the food in the dining hall is sub par and anything remotely healthy is usually tasteless, late night binge eating while studying, eating to avoid studying, etc. The list goes on and on. There are sure-fire ways, however, to avoid gaining weight during your freshman year. Here are a few we highly recommend:
One of the biggest misnomers with trying to avoid weight gain is skipping breakfast. That’s a big no-no. When we skip breakfast, we often feel the need or feel that it’s okay to eat more the rest of the day, but this ends up adding on even more calories than we would have with just breakfast. On top of that, our metabolism generally slows down when we don’t eat, so we’re asking for more trouble. Be sure to always have healthy protein or granola bars for those on-the-go days when you just don’t have time to sit down and enjoy a meal. If you have a mini fridge in your dorm room, stock it with quick breakfast goodies, such as yogurt. You can easily add some low-fat granola and fruit to it to make it a quick and complete meal.
Play a Sport…
…Or go to the gym. Your college tuition will generally include a membership to the gym, if it’s a big enough school. Take advantage of it! So many people have this opportunity and don’t use it. If going to the gym doesn’t do it for you, sign up to join a team sport, such as basketball, kickball, softball, etc. These groups generally meet once a week, but it’s better than doing absolutely nothing. You might love it so much that you’ll want to train to get better, which will mean that you will exercise on the days you don’t meet with your team.
If nothing else, take daily walks or jogs of 30 minutes or more to get your heart rate up. It’ll be good for you to get out of your daily routine and breathe some fresh air from time to time!
Dieting is Not for Everyone
We don’t recommend dieting, just because it is often a sure-fire way to disappointment. In many cases, people become less healthy when they diet because at some point they get so fed up with the restrictions they’ve placed on themselves that they over compensate by eating unhealthful foods. Like the old adage says, ‘eat in moderation’. The last thing you want to do is shock your system by depriving it of food (and lowering your metabolism in the process), and then binge eating (because it does happen) with foods that are bad for you.
Keep Track of Your Food Intake
If you feel that you’re over eating and want to take real control over the situation, keep a food diary of your caloric and/or food intake. Until you see on paper exactly how much food you’re consuming, you won’t realize the extent of problems it can cause for you. Consider your food journal as an entity that is holding you accountable for your daily food consumption. You’ll be able to use your log as a way to modify your eating habits as necessary.
Drink Lots of Water
Often times when our stomach is growling or we feel hunger pains, we’re actually just very thirsty. That is our body’s way of telling us to drink more water instead of to eat more food. Keep a water bottle with you every where you go and you’ll start drinking just because it will become habit. You’ll save a lot of calories by drinking water instead of eating another snack.
This list is by no means comprehensive, so please share with us your suggestions!