For most students, college is a time of change, exploration and growth. Being on your own for the first time away from home can be a challenge, but it can also be the best time of your life and an opportunity to build healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Many students will see some weight gain their first year of college. The “Freshman 15” is usually more like 5-10 pounds. Here are some simple tips to avoid the Freshman 15.
- Eat breakfast. You may not like waking up early for that math class, but the last thing you want to do is skip breakfast. Eat a good balanced breakfast, maybe a piece of fruit, some whole grain cereal and some yogurt. If you want some caffeine go for black coffee or tea and stay away from sugary drinks. Give yourself that boost in the morning and help avoid that mid-morning trip to the vending machine, or starving at lunch and over eating.
- Try new things. Try vegetarian options, different ethnic dishes and a variety of spices. You never know, you may expand your pallet to more than burgers, fries and pizza.
- Beverages count! Drink lots of water and remember that latte may have more calories than that burger. There are lots of empty calories in soda, alcohol and energy drinks. Keep that water bottle handy.
- Watch the late-night snacking. You may be up late studying, but you can still snack healthy and have energy for the test the next day. Keep healthy portable snacks on hand (apples, bananas, nuts, yogurt and cheese, just to name a few).
- Sleep and stress relief. OK, college students may be the worst example of healthy sleep habits, but give it a try… especially if you know you have a busy schedule, or lots of tests coming up. Shoot for 7-8 hours a night. Oh, and stress relief—we all get to that point—have a good social network to talk to, try a new activity, like yoga, painting, etc.
- Speaking of activity… BE ACTIVE! Maybe it’s just walking around campus in between class, going to a fitness class with friends or joining a team. Club teams and intramurals are an option. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Hit the weight room. There are plenty of opportunities to stay active.
If you start to struggle with your weight, how you feel or any area, ask for help. There are lots of resources on your campus to help you get and stay on track academically, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
By Debra Moyer, assistant director of Health Promotion & Wellness