A huge migration is underway. It’s officially time to head off to college. Like so many young, enthusiastic teens you’ve checked off every item on your college checklist, and you’re all packed and ready.
Many would agree, college is a different world. In addition to preparing your for your designated career field, it is also the place you’ll develop life skills for the next phase of your life—adulthood. More importantly, it’s also the place you’ll either cultivate healthy or unhealthy eating habits.
By now you’ve heard about the dreadful freshman 15, which describes when a first-year student gains 15 pounds as a result of bad eating habits as well as stress of acclimating to a new environment. While some amount of weight gain is normal as your adolescent body matures, rapid weight gain is a problematic. We spoke to Amanda Foti M.S., R.D., C.D.N., nutrition counselor and senior dietitian at Selvera, and she shared five tips to combat freshman 15. See what she had to say below.
- Just because it’s an unlimited meal plan does mean you are obligated to take advantage of it. Aim to keep your food choices healthy and keep portion sizes and normal as possible.
- Social obligations and pressure can have an impact on when and what you’re eating. Always go in with a plan whether it’s at a new restaurant downtown or the cafeteria on campus. Know what your healthy options are and be confident in making those choices.
- Make physical activity a priority early on. It’s an interesting point in your life where habits can begin to form. Within the first month figure out when and where exercise fits in and make it part of your schedule. Not only will it help with avoiding the freshman 15 but also help with managing stress!
- Watch your beverage intake. With college may come additional consumption of caloric beverages. Yes, I’m talking alcohol. Alcohol has very little function in our body and is quickly metalized to be stored as fat. If you’re planning on drinking socially keep it to a minimum and balance out with lots of water and activity.
- Beware of late night food binges. A common practice amongst college kids after a night of socializing (and drinking) is ordering carb heavy and fat laden meals. Keep some healthier late night snack items around so the damage isn’t as bad. Try oatmeal, wheat pita chips and hummus, air popped popcorn or cool whip and berries.
In addition to combating the dreadful freshman 15, Foti also shares how to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout your four years away from home.
- Don’t skip breakfast. It’s a surefire way to leave you overly hungry walking into an unlimited cafeteria and overindulging later in the day. Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast will set the stage for the rest of the day. One healthy choice tends to lead to more.
- Assess the new environment to see what is going to work. Are you in a dorm room where you can keep a few healthy items on hand? A few healthy suggestions include: high fiber cereal, protein bars, apples or bananas, soups, dry roasted edamame or chickpeas. If you have a mini fridge try Greek yogurts, cheese sticks, and hardboiled eggs.
- Plan to be busy! Make sure you schedule time for healthy meals or plan to grab something nutritious on the go. Allowing yourself to reach that starved feeling will likely lead to grabbing convenient and unhealthy choices later on.
- Make eating fruits and vegetables a priority! Use them on the go snacks and incorporate at least 1 into every meal.
- Never be without a water bottle. Whether you’re in class, walking between obligations or sitting down for a meal. Grab a large refillable water bottle and aim to down at least 3 of them a day. This will help to keep your metabolism up as well as your energy levels.
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