Going away to college can be one of the most exciting times of your life as a young adult. Being on your own for the first time is exhilarating, but leaving home also comes with a number of challenges as well.
One issue many freshmen face is a moderate weight gain that comes with a shift in how and what they eat. This additional weight is known as the freshman 15, and if you want to avoid it during your first semester, here are a few tips that can help keep you fit and healthy.
1. Make Time for Exercise
As a college student, you will probably spend a great deal of time sitting in lecture halls or at the library studying, so when you get a bit of free time, you may want to devote a portion of it to exercise. Not only will regular activity keep your weight down, a study by performed by Harvard Medical School shows that prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing weight-related illnesses.
Hit the university gym or take a dip in the pool or, failing that, take a brisk walk around campus at least three times a week.
2. Choose Wisely in the Cafeteria
If your parents invested in a cafeteria plan for you, this can help you avoid the weight gain that comes from eating fast food as an alternative, but only if you make wise choices.
You will probably have a wide variety of selections available at the cafeteria, and filling your plate with fruits, veggies, and protein instead of carbs and fatty foods can help you avoid rapid weight gain. The occasional burger and fries is not likely to harm you, but foods like this should be eaten in moderation.
3. Drink Healthy
What you drink can affect your weight as much as what you eat, so grabbing sodas and sugar-packed energy drinks on the way to a morning class can pack on the pounds before you realize it.
Replace these drinks with natural, low-sugar teas, organic coffee sweetened with a touch of honey or natural sweetener, or infused water.
These selections can help keep you hydrated and alert during class, and you are much less likely to suffer a sugar crash later on.
4. Snack Smart
The freedom to eat whatever you like will probably be a major contributor to any weight gain you experience, so you should practice moderation when it comes to snacks. Avoid student union vending machines or stocking up on fattening snacks at the local convenience store. Instead, carry healthy snacks with you during the day such as bagged whole-grain pretzels, apples, and containers of low-salt mixed nuts. These foods will provide you with the energy you need without causing weight gain.
High-fat and sugary snacks may also abound at campus parties, and while you should allow yourself to indulge every now and then, binging at these events on a weekly basis might contribute to rapid weight gain. If you want to contribute to a dorm party and bring along something healthy, consider Hampton Creek Just Peanut Butter Cookies, which contain only ten grams of fat per serving and are made without trans fats.
5. Avoid Skipping Meals
Skipping meals can quickly become a habit because of your new busy schedule and social commitments, but when you miss meals, it may cause you to binge the next time you eat. Eating breakfast is especially important because hunger can distract you from your lectures and classwork. If you have a hard time eating large meals, eat four or five small meals throughout the day instead of three big ones. This will supply you with energy throughout the day and help you avoid binging when temptation presents itself.
If you have early classes, there are a few grab-and-go breakfast options to consider. Keep hard boiled eggs handy so you can grab one on your way out the door, or spread a smear of peanut butter on a slice of whole-grain bread to munch on your way to the bus stop. Keeping healthy, portable foods with you during the day can be instrumental in avoiding the freshman 15.
With college comes many changes, but weight gain does not have to be among them. Moderation and having access to healthy snacks are key and will allow you to enjoy your newfound freedom and practice good nutrition as well.