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How to avoid the “Freshman 15”

Starting college can be one of the most exciting times of a young person’s life, but can also be one of the most stressful. Often this stress manifests itself in the “Freshman 15.” While the 15 pounds gained is typically an exaggeration, there is still the threat of this weight gain adversely affecting not only student performance, but also in the years following college. Fortunately, simple steps can be taken to avert this potential problem.

Watch your diet

With how many campus dining halls are designed, it is all too easy to overeat, especially on high calorie junk food. Instead, try eating smaller meals throughout the day, with more of an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and multi-grain carbs. Drinking water is much preferred over soda or alcohol, as these two drinks are loaded with empty calories. Another potential problem is “social eating,” or simply eating to be with other people. While this can be a healthy way to develop friendships, if unchecked, can easily snowball into overeating. It is important to be mindful of how much you are eating during these times.

Get proper sleep

It will probably be harder than ever before to get enough sleep with coursework and other priorities, but getting enough sleep remains vital. Lack of sleep has severe effects on students, from lack of energy to decreased metabolism, prime conditions for weight gain. At the same time, oversleeping has been to know to contribute to future weight gain. Around 6-8 hours of quality sleep is the optimal level for college students.

Stay physically active

Even high school athletes can quickly find themselves gaining weight if they don’t maintain an active lifestyle. However, colleges offer many resources to aid in a healthy student lifestyle. The student fitness center is a great place to workout, join a fitness class, or participate in an intramural sports league. It can also be a great way to meet friends who will help in staying motivated. Even small efforts to get active such as taking the stairs or taking a bike across campus can be helpful.

Use your school’s health facilities

Typically including in tuition costs, school health centers usually have trained health professionals such as dieticians that would be more than happy to assist. These services can include forming dietary plans or stress counseling.  Health centers also have informative health brochures, and some even offer services such as vaccinations. By having these professional resources available, it will be much easier to accomplish your health goals throughout the semester.

College is meant to be a place for young adults to gain knowledge, not weight. By being diligent in improving your physical health, it will be much easier to focus on academic performance, and at graduation, a degree won’t be the only thing you take with you..


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