Attention incoming freshmen: are you afraid of the freshman fifteen? It’s not as bad as you think it is if you use common sense and wise judgment! Here’s a set of tips to help you guys avoid this dreaded weight gain plus a personal story to keep you motivated.
01. Eat breakfast
Has anyone ever seen those Special K commercials which claim that people who eat breakfast are less susceptible to weight gain? Well, personally I feel a lot better on days where I make a little time to eat breakfast. I know it’s hard if you have early morning classes but my solution to that would be to serve myself cereal in a cup and eat it on the go.
02. Don’t skip meals
Avoiding the freshman fifteen is NOT about eating less than you already do, it’s about staying away from detrimental habits that may be acquired during your first year of being in a new environment. Skipping meals and undereating just leads to more complications and you’ll end up screwing up your metabolism.
03. Avoid eating with your eyes and savor your food
The biggest issue involving the freshman fifteen is the fact that food environments in the dorms are conducive to overeating. All you can eat? Sure it sounds great but it really isn’t necessary to eat that much food. It’s easy to grab a dish here and there without really thinking about it. Maybe you feel the need to eat your money’s worth? Well, it won’t be worth it when you feel completely bloated and miserable! Another problem arises from the social aspect of eating in the dining commons. There’s nothing wrong with meeting up with friends for dinner but the problem is that you tend to concentrate more on the conversation than eating. This leads to the mindless consumption of more food because you’re less in tune with your stomach and you won’t realize you’re full. Chew your food and savor it!! The more in tune you are with your hunger, the faster you’ll realize when you’re full.
04. Think about your parents
Okay, this one sounds lame but it’s actually relevant. Many freshmen may be new to the idea of getting to choose what he or she wants to eat instead of the food that would be served to them at home. Would your mother or father really approve of your devouring all those sugary doughnuts? Parents have rules for a reason we don’t really want to acknowledge: they care about us and our well being!
05. Hit the gym
Not my personal favorite (as in, I never go) but people tell me it really helps to work out. You’ll not only burn calories but you’ll feel great overall. Again, I’m guilty of being too lazy to get up and exercise so in the spirit of Nike, JUST DO IT! (I don’t even think that counts as remotely punny)
06. Manage stress levels
A new environment like college is also accompanied by a new set of worries which may affect your eating habits. You’re going to stress out no matter what so find other ways to release this tension. Work out, do yoga, mediate… the possibilities are endless! Just don’t fall for the allure of eating your problems away because 1. the problems won’t go away and 2. you’re just creating new ones. Also, don’t procrastinate!
07. Eating does not cure depression
Seriously, it doesn’t. A number of outside issues like homesickness or feelings of inadequacy may affect your moods and the idea of “comfort food” seems appealing in the short run. You may feel alright after binge eating but in the long run it’s not going to help. If you really feel it’s an issue, seek professional help. On the other less serious end of the spectrum, even if you’re just feeling a little blue because of an undesirable grade or result, there are other alternatives.
08. Avoid late night snacks
If you live in a college town, chances are that businesses are smart about it and offer late night fixes for those of you who feel the need to stay up and hit the books. The worst types of snacks (pizza, sweets, burritos) + the worst time to eat = DISASTER! The easiest way to avoid this is to study during the day and sleep at night. Well, most of us probably won’t follow this so the next step would be to eat healthy snacks like fruits or pretzels.
09. Curb those empty calories
By empty calories I mean those that come from alcohol. I’m not endorsing underage drinking but it can’t be helped. The lack of parental supervision may cause you to go overboard with partying especially if you never participated in high school. If you’re going to party, don’t overdo it. Binge drinking not only packs on the calories but is also dangerous and should be avoided.
10. Don’t become obsessed with counting calories
These tips should become a natural part of your regiment so you shouldn’t put that much of an emphasis on avoiding weight gain. Letting these concerns take over your life may result in disastrous consequences like the development of a serious eating disorder. Try to integrate these tips into your lives as naturally as you can! Remember, it’s not about how skinny or fat you are, it’s about how good you feel inside.
And now it’s time for my personal horror story:
Freshman fifteen? More like freshman twenty! I overdid it probably more than any of you ever will and overate with every chance I got. Well, so maybe it was okay for me to gain weight since I was scary skinny to begin with but in the end I felt crappy because of all the stuff I was putting in my system. I remember eating pints of coffee flavored Haagen Das ice cream and still thinking I needed more, ugh. Once I moved out of the dorms and went home for the summer I ended up losing ten pounds because I stopped overeating and ate normally. If only I had listened to my own tips, ugh! The giant cookie was delicious but sooooo not worth it.
Good luck to all incoming freshmen and take care!
p.s. SAY NO TO THE GIANT COOKIE!