The college myth, the freshman legend, the calorie gainer phenomenon are some of the names you could use to describe the dreaded “Freshman 15.” The Freshman 15 is the commonly referred term for gaining 15 pounds during your first year of college. Some may think they could never gain 15 pounds within their first year away from home, but adapting to a budgeted college food lifestyle without the convenience of mom’s homemade cooking can be a difficult adjustment.
There’s going to come an inevitable point in your semester where you’ll find yourself late night binge eating to compensate for the amount of stress you have for your essay you decided to do last minute. However, the irony is the Freshman 15 is completely avoidable by simply regulating your college diet and maintaining both your mental and physical health. Check out some of these easy to follow tips to defeat the Freshman 15.
Exercise on a Weekly Basis
Exercising in college is definitely an undesirable activity to manage in between your long hours of studying and piles of homework, but setting aside time in your schedule to exercise once or twice a week makes a big difference. Whether it’s just 30 minutes on the treadmill or an hour of conditioning, any form of exercise on a weekly basis will help in the long run towards maintaining your shape and being a healthy college student, which amidst the thousands of sleep deprived racooned eyes college students can be hard to find.
Explore dietary options in your dining hall.
The dining hall is the main enemy to blame for the Freshman 15 since you’re stuck with dining dollars throughout both semesters and can only eat what is available to you, but there’s always healthy options available at your college dining hall. Cheeseburgers and chicken tenders aren’t the only daily food available as most colleges have salad and soup bars if you’re looking for a lighter meal. In addition, some colleges have meals designed specifically for food allergies, vegetarians, vegans, which means you can get pretty creative in mixing up your food options amongst different vendors in your dining hall. Though the idea of having unlimited access to junk food in your dining hall may seem appealing, try to mix it up every once and a while and venture towards the various healthy options available.
Do not skip on breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Skipping out on meals may not seem like a big deal to college students especially when you’re in a rush to your 8 AM class in the morning or you have too much cramming to do the night before on your exam and skip out on dinner, but skipping out on the 3 necessary meals of the day can take a toll on your health. Missing out on meals can actually disrupt your dietary system, and make your body hold onto fat due to feeling starvation. Plus only good things come out of maintaining a balanced eating diet like improving your concentration and increasing your energy throughout the day in order to survive through your classes. Though you may only have 10 minutes to make it to your 8 AM class because you overslept, at least try to grab a banana or pop tart on your way out the door because breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
Try your best not to late night snack.
Late night snacks are inevitable when it comes to stress and having college dollars, but there’s a high likelihood that you will regret stress eating the night before when you wake up. Chocolate, cereal, chips, and more can be your best friend as you panic the night before on a final project due the next day, but in reality food cannot help your academic problems go away. Scientifically, eating late at night makes your body more likely to store calories and fats instead of burning them off as energy, due to your metabolism processing food slower in the evening. Therefore, try to get your studies done ahead of time, so you can put the stress eating chocolate down and get a good night sleep instead.
Make your own food in your dorm.
Eating at your college dining hall everyday can get boring for your tastebuds or you may not want to eat amongst all your fellow classmates because you don’t feel good or don’t want to be around people. That’s why making your own food in your dorm provides both peace and privacy. Though you may be limited with cooking appliances in your dorm, most of the time you will always have a microwave or mini fridge. Grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s contain lots of microwavable meal including vegetarian and vegan options. Getting creative with your grocery shopping can be a great way to discover new healthy meals or snacks that aren’t normally available in your dining hall.
Treat yourself outside your dining hall every once in a while!
Though you may be on a college budget, there’s nothing wrong with eating outside of your dining hall every once and awhile and having fun trying different restaurants and cafes. Truthfully don’t concern your daily dietary life with the fear of acquiring the freshman 15 and make sure to treat yourself to foods you enjoy because your hard work of studying and being a college student in general deserves it. By maintaining both your physical health and your mental happiness throughout both of your semesters, the freshman 15 will only be a fable college myth.