Many college and university dining halls offer all-you-can-eat food to students. Unlike high school and middle schools which try to serve healthy foods, not all of these foods are the best to eat for you. Combine fatty and sugary foods with sodas and unlimited portions and you get the “Freshman 15″ — the 15 pounds gained by many students in their freshman year of college.
Is the Freshman 15 real or just a myth?
Well, it really depends on the person. If you eat unhealthy and don’t exercise, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some weight gain in college. However, if you’re able to control your eating habits well and/or exercise, you won’t have much to worry about. After my first year, I noticed that most people hadn’t really changed weight at all, though there were definitely some students who had put on a few pounds over the year.
So, what can you do to avoid the Freshman 15?
As with anything else regarding weight, the obvious answers of “eat less” and “exercise more” are what counts, but here are a few ways I’ve found that help you achieve those two:
- Don’t drink soda. This is a huge one — if your dining hall provides unlimited soda, try drinking something more healthy instead, like juice, iced tea, or best yet, water. Limit your soda intake and you’ll cut way back on unhealthy sugars and calories.
- Have a piece of fruit as dessert. Instead of grabbing cake, cookies, or some other dessert, grab a piece of fruit. Fruits have their own sugars which are far healthier for you and still taste great.
- Put less food on your plate. I’ve found out that I’m usually too lazy to get seconds, so by putting less food on my plate, I would eat less. If you’re grabbing huge platefuls of food, you’re going to feel like you need to eat it. Go small.
- Exercise when you can. You don’t need to do a sport or go to the gym daily, but small lifestyle changes can make a difference: walk instead of taking the bus, take stairs instead of the elevator, and so forth.
- Prepare your own food. For example, if the dining hall is serving corn dogs, make yourself a sandwich instead — usually food you assemble yourself can be healthier.
Anybody have Freshman 15 stories or tips to share?