Beating the Freshman 15 with Cuisine
Everyone’s different. When transitioning into college, some people gain a lot of weight, some people stay the same weight, and some even lose weight. The term “Freshman 15” should not scare you, but becoming aware of the causes of the “Freshman 15” may just help you avoid it altogether.
“Freshman 15” is just a name. Most college freshman do not gain 15 pounds. The average weight gain is anywhere around 4-7 pounds the first semester of college.
So why do college freshman tend to gain some weight during this time? The first year of college tends to be a drastic change for young adults. There are many reasons someone may gain weight during this time. A few of them may include:
You may have an overloaded schedule with classes, work, and friends that you just do not have enough time to eat healthy. If you are pushed for time, you may feel you have no choice but to turn to fast food.
A potential solution to this is meal prepping. If you know you are going to be at class or work all day and will not have enough time to make a healthy meal, prepare your meal the night before and in the morning. This is where your mom’s Tupperware may come in handy.
New Eating Habits
In high school, many of your meals and the times you ate them were planned for you by your parents or the school. Among other many new choices you have to make in college, choosing when and what you eat during the day is a major change for many. This newfound freedom can be very enticing.
We all do it once in a while – the midnight snack. Whether you are studying, partying, or just having a bowl of cereal at midnight, eating late at night can contribute to weight gain.
Trying new foods is one of the best parts of moving to a new place. There are even countless TV shows based on this knowledge. New food can become dangerous, however, if you begin changing your eating habits, eating out more often, and choosing less healthy options.
A solution to this is sticking to an eating schedule that works for you. Being aware of your schedule and monitoring when you eat throughout the day can help you build a healthy eating schedule during this new time. Always pay attention to your body and what it needs. If you eat pretty healthy throughout the week and want to treat yourself on the weekend, there’s nothing wrong with that. Trying different foods is definitely not a bad thing, just do so in moderation.
We have all done it – mindlessly ate a giant bowl of popcorn while watching a movie. Of course, it feels like no time has passed and the popcorn has disappeared kernel by kernel until there is nothing left but your upset stomach and regret. In college, many students pass studying by with snacking as well. When you are cramming for your midterms, you may also find yourself snacking without thought.
A solution to mindlessly snacking while studying is keeping quick to prepare, nutritious food on hand. If you know that you are going to be up late studying, do your brain a huge favor and pack some nutritious snacks for yourself. Packing a small bag of almonds, fruit, or veggies will sustain your brain so you can ace your class and also help keep your body healthy. Personally, I have found that if I pack too much of just one snack I get bored. I pack many small, healthier snacks to provide variety and to maintain my interest through long nights of studying.
If we face the facts, food packed with nutrients can often cost more money. However, don’t let that stop you. There are many ways to get around the high cost of nutrient-packed food, including preparing your own meals from fresh store-bought veggies and making your own smoothies at home.
Freshman year of college yields many new and difficult circumstances, including a new environment to get used to, difficult classes, new relationships, and homesickness. Emotional eating during times of stress can harm your physical health and make you even more upset in the long-run.
Food for Thought
Staying physically active and having a wealth of knowledge about healthy foods will help reduce your chances of gaining the “Freshman 15.” There are many ways to stay physically active in college, such as joining a recreational sports team, attending a gym, taking fitness classes, and walking to class.
Studies have shown that the more knowledgeable one has about food nutrition, the more likely they are to eat healthy. So, take a cooking class and read your nutrition labels! Additionally, the act of actually preparing your meals has been shown to promote healthy eating habits.
A balanced diet can include whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Limiting highly processed foods and refined sugars will also help you avoid the Freshman 15.
Your freshman year of college is a time where a lot is changing. Staying on top of both your physical and mental health are very important to keep in mind during this busy period. Don’t add the Freshman 15 to your list of stresses.
This blog post was written by Jordyn Becker, a High Sierra AHEC Student Ambassador.