Every year high school graduates move on to college many of them leaving the nest to do so. For too many students this brings on a lifestyle of pizza and cheap beer, which leads to the infamous Freshman 15. College can be the best four years of your life, however it can also be some of the worst for your body. Here are some of the causes of the freshman 15 and how you can counter them this 2017 school year!
Many of you are going to be living away from home for the first time. This means learning the struggles of cooking, cleaning, and laundry. If you were like me in my freshman year you may not have the time, money or expertise to cook healthy meals every night. This is why so many people resort to easy to prepare food like frozen pizza, sandwiches, and the classic ramen noodles. All of those options are either high in calories, sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, or carbohydrates. For many freshman living on campus a meal plan is included in their residency fee. If you happen to be in this lucky situation then be careful with what you are putting in your body. On campus food that your meal card allows you to access does have healthy options. However it may be difficult to ward off the temptation of the many unhealthy options that are available, especially when there are so many of them. Having a poor diet will contribute to weight gain, reduced energy, poor mood and a lower immune system function. The roommates that I have lived with that had poor diets were always the ones to get sick the most often, and complain about being tired the most.
What to do:
- If you’re eating at the school cafeteria, be careful with the portions you’re giving yourself. Reducing them will really help you to keep your weight in check. Schedule your cheat meals and stick to them. Cheat meals help to motivate you to keep healthy, as eating clean 7 days a week may drive you insane and contribute to you giving up.
- Meal prep: Cook your meal for the week on one night and freeze them in containers. Cooking larger portions and saving the leftovers will help to save you time on meal prep and allows you to have easy to prepare healthy meals for the rest of the week.
- Avoid snacking from a big bag. I have a big problem with this. As soon as I bring home trail mix I find the bag to be empty the next day because I am unconsciously snacking on it throughout the day.
- Be sure to eat your veggies. An easy way to do so: Get a bag of baby carrots, poor water in the bag, shake the bag up, and dump the water out. Now you have prepared carrots that you can snack on when you’re studying.
I think it is fair to say that a fair bit of drinking gets done in college. Where I go to school almost every day has an excuse to go to the bar especially at the beginning of the semester. It is ok to go out and have fun but when you begin drinking multiple times a week you could start to develop a beer gut. What some people do not realize is that alcohol is very calorie dense and can throw your diet off in a few different ways.
Popular alcohol choices
Budweiser (12 OZ.) = 145 calories
Jägermeister (1 OZ.) = 103 calories
Absolut vodka (1 OZ.) = 69 calories
White wine (100 ml) = 123 calories
Other than a few grams of carbs, alcohol’s calories are empty as they provide you with no nutrients. Aside from the alcohol itself drinking can increase your calorie count from other things that a night of drinking brings with it. Using chasers when drinking hard liquor will only add to your hangovers and calorie consumption. Hangovers (for me at least) mean cheat meals and skipping workouts. So not only have you consumed a lot of calories the night before but your productivity and diet are essentially shot the next day as well. Post bar food is another favorite for a lot of college students. You’re most likely not going to be craving carrots and celery sticks at 2 a.m. when you are drunk. Eating pizza, fast food, or burritos after drinking just adds to your calorie consumption for the night.
What to do:
- Not every event calls for a beer. Limit your drinking and learn how to have fun without alcohol and you’ll cut calories significantly. You’ll be doing your body and wallet a favor.
- When you do drink, do so responsibly and make sure to be drinking plenty of water throughout the night so that your hangover the next day is not as bad. Also, keeping track of how many drinks you have had that night.
Many kids go from playing varsity sports and training on a consistent basis in high school to not having to do any of that at all once they go to college. With nobody there to help you keep your physique in check, your fitness can easily become an afterthought. Combining this with the limited free time that you now have the freshman 15 becomes a serious possibility for some. Also your Basal Metabolic Rate decreases with age making it more difficult for you to burn calories. Thus, increasing the need for exercise and a healthy diet in order to maintain a healthy weight.
What to do:
-Playing intramural sports can help to keep you active. The sweatier and more tired you are after the game the better!
-You will never “find time” you have to make time to workout.
-Workouts don’t need to be two hours long. Tailor your exercise plan with your schedule.
-If you do not have a lot of time to make it high intensity with less breaks to burn more calories.
The move from high school to post secondary brings with it more work and responsibility. Keeping in shape is going to be more of a challenge and it most likely won’t get easier as you get older. It is important to have self-control and to know what you are putting in your body versus what you are burning off. College or university can be the best time of your life just make sure to eat healthy, be active and remember why you are there!