Tips to Avoid the "Freshman 15"
Last year, The American Council on Exercise (ACE) released these recommendations to help freshmen keep their weight, and health, in check.
- Get Active: Instead of hitching a car ride with your roommate, walk or ride your bike to classes and other areas on campus. Also, consider enrolling in courses that require you to be physically active during the class. In addition, many colleges and universities have a campus recreation center which provides an opportunity to participate in intramural sports and/or group fitness classes. The exercise will not only help you to control your body weight, but can reduce stress as well; thus, improving your overall health.
- Make Nutritious Choices: No one is saying to completely nix the pizza and study party, but moderation is key. Opt for one slice and fill up on fruit and veggies. Better yet, grab a whole grain bagel and top with low-sodium tomato sauce and reduced-fat cheese to satisfy your pizza craving without the additional calories and fat. Many dorms will allow you to have a mini refrigerator in your room and some even have microwaves located in community gathering rooms that can be accessed to make quick and easy meals and snacks.
- Eat Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner: Research shows that those individuals who eat a daily breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. It is a good idea to keep non-perishable foods, such as whole-grain cereal (which can be eaten dry if need be) and meal replacement bars, stocked in your dorm room for those days that your class schedule interferes with your ability to make it to the campus dining hall.
- Choose Healthy Snacks: Your brain needs energy to tackle long studying sessions. However, foods high in fat and sugar will just leave you sluggish and drained a few hours later. Choosing snacks that have a good balance between protein and carbs is the best way to go. Yogurt and low-fat granola or a handful of nuts and dried fruit make great snacks that will give you the mental stamina you need without the "bottoming out" effect.
- Stress Be Gone: Stress leads to an elevation in cortisol levels which can trigger appetite. Try to manage stress through relaxation techniques and take regular study breaks. Deep breathing exercises and walking are good ways to relieve stress.
- Don't Underestimate the Power of Sleep: Unfortunately, "college life" can interfere with your sleep schedule. Lack of quality sleep can lead to weight gain. Research has shown that sleep deprivation can interfere with hunger regulation leading to an increase in appetite and cravings for fatty and sugary foods. Ideally, you want to get 8 hours of sleep.
- Alcohol Equals Calories: Most freshmen are not of legal drinking age anyway. However, if you are of age, recognize that alcoholic beverages can contain high amounts of calories. Alcohol also can stimulate the hunger center leading to consumption of unnecessary calories. Avoid or limit alcohol consumption.
The American Council on Exercise