For many college students, today is the first day of college! While the “freshman 15” weight gain is actually a myth, many college students do experience some weight gain from transitioning from home to college where there is more freedom to eat as you please. By following a few simple tips, you can avoid any unnecessary weight gain!
1. Snacking: before you snack ask yourself if you are actually hungry. You may be snacking out of boredom, stress, or anxiety. Instead of snacking, go on a quick walk, drink some water, or find another way to distract yourself! Also, keep healthy snacks on hand for when you are actually hungry for a snack. Instead of chips and cookies, stock up on fruit and peanut butter, veggies and hummus, low-fat yogurt, and whole grain cereal products.
2. Don’t Skip Breakfast: a good breakfast is a jumpstart to your body’s metabolism. By consuming breakfast you will be able to pay attention in class better. Also by eating breakfast, you may eat less at other meals of the day because your body was not starved in the morning. If you don’t have time to sit down for breakfast, some on-the-go breakfast ideas include whole wheat toast with peanut butter, hard boiled egg, fruit, cereal bar, or a tortilla stuffed with peanut butter and fruit.
3. Be Prepared for the Cafeteria: although cafeterias may be full of fried foods and cheeseburgers, there are also healthier options always available. Look for steamed, baked, broiled, or grilled choices. Also, the salad bar can be a healthy option if you go light on the cheese, bacon crumbles, and full-fat dressings. You can build a healthy sandwich at the deli by avoiding other high-calorie toppings. When indulging in a treat such as pizza, dessert, or french fries, practice portion control. Use the government’s MyPlate as a guide to building a healthy meal.
4. Avoid Drinking Your Calories: soda and alcohol pack a lot of calories into one glass. Choose water, tea, or juice over soda. For students over 21, look for light beer or alcohol in moderate amounts without the high calorie mixers. When out drinking, alternate an alcoholic drink with water so you will consume less alcohol and thus less calories. Eating a good filling dinner before a night out may prevent you from indulging in late night cravings.
5. Exercise! Many colleges have on-site fitness centers for students. Exercise helps control weight, improves mood, and helps to reduce stress. Join an intramural sports team to increase your exercise as well as hang out with friends. Walk or ride a bike to class instead of driving or taking a bus.