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Health Center: How to Avoid the Freshman 15
We’ve all heard of the Freshman 10 or the Freshman 15, the dreaded weight that some students gain when they go to college. Any major change in life can contribute to weight gain or weight loss IF you’re not paying attention, so the key is to be aware of your eating and activity patterns.
Students who gain weight at college are usually making lifestyle changes that result in increased eating and/or decreased activity. Increased eating can result from having easy access to large amounts of food, such as in the Commons, as well as increased snacking or late night pizza in the dorms. Skipping meals can also result in weight gain, since studies show that we make up missed calories later in the day and skipping meals can result in a slower metabolism. Eating consistent, balanced meals helps metabolism stay high and helps you manage portion sizes better. Planning ahead, even thinking about what you will choose on your walk to the Commons, can help prevent putting too much food on your tray.
Take some time to think about your meals: think about when meals fit into your schedule, where you will eat, and what you might choose for carbs, protein and fats. Planning your mealtimes like you plan your course schedule helps ensure that meals don’t get missed or left to chance.
Consider keeping your eating separate from other activities, like studying. For example, instead of eating while you’re studying, take a snack break when you’re hungry. It’s easy to eat through a whole bag of chips while you’re distracted by studying or watching TV. Think about eating consciously (focusing on the food while you’re eating) vs. eating unconsciously (eating while doing something else).
Participating in regular exercise or activity is also a key factor in maintaining a healthy weight. Many people also find that they make better food choices when they are active.
As with any lifestyle choice, balance is important. It is possible to go too far in an effort to avoid gaining weight. It is possible to end up losing too much weight or exercising too much, which can result in health risks and problems with school in general. If you want more help in this area, ask your RA or Peer Health Educator to schedule a group session with the Dietitian, or call the