Dietary and nutritional content reviewed by Jasmin Gorostiza, DT, DM, DSS, CFPP.️
You’ve just opened the letter that will change your life: you’ve been accepted to the college of your dreams (or at least one you can live with), and everything you have to do before you leave is racing through your head: party, pack, spend time with friends (party), and of course — party, while staying in great shape for more partying at your college destination. College is the beginning of a new phase in your life — and you want to be healthy for it. And ready to party.
You keep hearing about the dreaded “Freshman 15,” the 15 pounds students put on when they go to college or a university for the first time.
You keep hearing about the dreaded “Freshman 15,” the 15 pounds students put on when they go to college or a university for the first time. Yes — you, too, can look forward to these exciting things in your first year of college: a snarky roommate you have nothing in common with, confusing class schedules and even more confusing teachers, and of course the “Dreaded Freshman 15” (read that in an echoing, dungeony voice)!
What is the “Freshman 15”?
While I’m pretty sure you already know, let’s talk (again) about what the “Freshman 15” really is — getting fat. Or at least fatter than you were in high school. Students going off to college or universities for the first time are faced with a significant change of routine — and not all of it’s good.
Some of my personal favorites were scheduling all my classes after noon so I could sleep in and stay up late; spending more money on Coachella than food, clothing, and textbooks combined; eating donuts for lunch and possibly dinner — wait a minute! This may have been the moment I fell off the proverbial weight loss wagon!
In comparison to high school, colleges and universities require more time hitting the books than students may be used to.
In comparison to high school, colleges and universities require more time hitting the books than students may be used to. This means sitting on your butt in libraries staring forlornly at broken and empty clicker pencils, and researching, researching, and researching until you feel like your eyeballs will burn out of your head if you have to read one more Shakespearean sonnet.
Needless to say, studying is NOT conducive to recreation, unless you study outside with canned wine, bluetooth speakers, and KanJam. In which case — you guessed it — you’re not really studying. You are recreating and drinking at the same time, though, so kudos to you!
Well, moving away from home for the first time can be hard for some students, both mentally and physically.
Don’t get me wrong — you NEED to spend time outside, but you also need to study … wait, I’m getting off track here (must be the canned wine). We were talking about gaining those extra “study pounds” at college, right? Right. Well, moving away from home for the first time can be hard for some students, both mentally and physically. Here are a few key bits of information that will help you keep off those sneaky 15 pounds, stay happy, and avoid having a beluga butt.
10. Keep Your Mealtimes Structured
Don’t graze all day on unhealthy stuff, and eat regular meals whenever you can. Regular meals will keep your nutrition up and hopefully help you eat healthier than delivery pizza. Let’s be real, though — you’re more likely to grab an apple or breakfast sandwich from 7-11 before class than sit down with Snarky Roomie when you have 5 minutes to get to class. Try to at least eat a full healthy meal at lunch or dinner (at least a sandwich with something on it).
9. Watch What You Eat In The Cafeteria
The problem with, or great thing about, cafeteria-style meal plans is that you can eat everything and anything you want, and nothing you don’t. If you want to, you can eat chocolate pudding for dinner and mom or dad won’t tell you no. Honestly, no one but you cares if you gain that Freshman 15, and no one cares what you eat. If you end up fifteen pounds heavier at the end of term, that’s on you.
8. Fill Your Plate Up With Healthy Food First
Just put the veggies on first. If you eat them, great, if not at least your snarky roommate thinks you did. Crowding out the cream puffs and mac n’ cheese is also a good idea if you don’t want to gain those extra pounds. Fruit is a good compromise: it tastes good if it’s ripe, is nutritious, and is even kind of healthy for you. Trust me, it’s good practice for being a grown up!
7. Don’t Go Back For Seconds
I know, I know, it’s soooo tempting when they have mounds of chocolate pudding, but if you don’t go back for seconds those pounds will probably stay off. Unless you order that pizza after the party later, that is.
6. Stock Your Room And Backpack With Healthy Snacks
When I was in college, I was so broke all the time that a box of granola bars was my go to meal about 20 times a week. Other than that I drank beer, wine, and various cocktails, along with multiple morning bowls of cannabis. Whatever floats your boat, but I find canned wine and granola bars to be very portable and satisfying.
5. Schedule Your Classes So You Get A Decent Walk Or Bike Ride In Each Day
When you’re a freshman, you’re pretty much required to take a set amount of classes, and you’re usually peeling yourself out of bed in the morning with about five minutes to spare. This means you have to jog (or sprint) across campus, or Tour de France race to get to Comp 101.
If you can breathe while you’re getting there, try to enjoy this time outdoors, because you’ll be sitting in stuffy classrooms packed with hungover college students for the next six hours.
4. Don’t Drink Sugary Drinks
We all know Coke and Sprite are bad for us, and that energy drinks are probably killing our brain cells and sperm, but we continue to drink them anyway — mostly because they’re priced at a discount in those machines in the hallways and we’re still thirsty.
Another reason is the dinky drinking fountains that are invariably filled with pulpy paper scraps, regurgitated food, or phlegm some thoughtful classmate coughed up just before you arrived. Regardless of what you drink, if it has sugar in it you are just drinking that donut you passed up this morning — don’t do it.
3. Exercise With Friends
The best thing about going to college is meeting (and having sex with) new friends, and possibly your future boo. I said possibly. Colleges and universities have rockstar gyms, with all the equipment you could possibly need to stay in shape and look more fabulous than your snarky roommate. Take advantage while you don’t have to pay for a hefty gym membership and keep those pounds off with sweat equity. Your body and your next date will thank you for it.
2. Don’t Eat Much
This is a time-tested solution to gaining weight, or even maintaining it — just don’t eat all that food. It really works, but please be careful not to lose TOO much weight if you try this solution — IVs don’t taste as good as donuts, or even energy drinks. If you’re on a budget, and don’t have time to eat anyway between your classes, your pointless internship, and partying, not eating much may be just the ticket.
1. Don’t Worry About Your Weight So Damn Much
Honestly, chances are you’ll probably gain some weight your first year at school, but you’re just as likely to lose it because you’re trying so hard to impress that sexy thing in your Bio class. Or you may just be trying to look better than the Snarkster.
Either way, college is about more than your roommate, the Bio Boy, or even studying — it’s a place to become who you truly are, be what you were meant to be (at least until graduation), and party like there’s no tomorrow. So don’t let weight bog you down; you may look better with those few extra pounds — and science says that most students only gain about 9 pounds.
So keep your head up (or down if you’re studying), make friends, eat balanced meals, and keep up an exercise routine. Yeah, right. Well, do your best — college costs an exorbitant amount of money, so at least get the degree and try to enjoy yourself.