There’s nothing more exciting than beginning a new chapter of life and going off to college where new experiences, knowledge and wisdom are just around the corner. College is an exciting new step and new students can experience a range of emotions as they leave home to move into their dorms – including fear, anxiety, excitement and a little bit of sadness. One thing that a lot of freshman college students dread as they kick off their first year is the freshman 15 – a myth that everyone has heard about, thought about and worked out a plan to try and avoid. The freshman 15 states that new college students are bound to gain at least 15 pounds during their first year due to poor eating habits, drinking alcohol, unrestricted access to dining halls and snacks and a more sedentary lifestyle. Statistics show that nearly 75% of incoming college students reported a fear of gaining weight, and nearly five percent of those students will develop actual eating disorders from this fear. Young students already have so much to worry about, which is why it’s important to eliminate the freshman 15 myth and replace the fear with facts and tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle without sacrificing the fun and excitement of being independent.
Research shows that most new college students will only gain between two and five pounds in their first year, not a whole 15. The freshman 15 myth originated in the 1980s when the national obesity rate among young adults increased by 14 percent. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help eliminate the fear of the freshman 15 myth, and to assist young college students with this new transition.
Manage Stress & Emotions
For many college students, they are moving away from home for the first time, which can create many feelings and emotions of uncertainty and fear. Emotions play a big role in weight gain and feelings of anxiety and being homesick can all lead to overeating. Before eating ask yourself if you are really hungry, or if you are eating out of boredom or anxiety. If you are feeling stressed take a break instead to hang out with some friends or go outside for a quick walk. If the stress and anxiety are beginning to feel like too much, it’s a good idea to look into student counseling services available on campus.
If you know that you have a weakness for chips and chocolate, keep these items out of your dorm room so you are not tempted to reach for them in the middle of the night while studying for an exam. Late nights and stress can easily lead to binge eating, so it’s important to stock up on snacks that provide a balance of protein and carbs to keep you energized. Some great snack options include apples with peanut butter, yogurt with fruit and whole-grain cereal.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s one that college students often skip. A donut and a strong coffee do not make for a good breakfast, and it’s a proven fact that people who enjoy a healthy breakfast will eat less throughout the day. Breakfast should provide carbohydrates and protein to keep you full, and some great options include hard boiled eggs with fruit, whole grain toast with peanut butter, oatmeal or a low-fat granola bar with a piece of fruit. You don’t have to have a gourmet cooked breakfast every day, but it is important to wake up your metabolism and provide your body with energy in a healthy way first thing in the morning.
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Alcohol is readily available in college, even to students who don’t meet the legal drinking age of 21. Consuming alcohol in large quantities is not only extremely unhealthy and dangerous, but it’s a sure way to pack on the pounds quickly. When drinking opt for light beers or spirits in moderate amounts, and make sure to consume one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage to stay hydrated and to consume fewer calories.
Time is a valuable commodity for college students, which makes it difficult to carve out time to take an exercise class or go to the gym. Physical activity helps to control weight, improves your mood and can control stress so it’s important to try and stay active at least a few times a week. You can even opt to walk to class instead of driving or join a group activity like intramural sports with your friends.
Many of the tips we mentioned above are the same that we share with our clients and friends who are all looking to follow a healthier lifestyle. To learn more about our services or to book an appointment for a personalized consultation please contact us.