Student Life

Avoiding the Freshman 15: Eating Healthy In College

For college students, eating healthy is often far from their minds.  I mean, let’s be honest here:  The fact that you’re in class all day and have to study all night means that you’re not always going to make it to the dining hall to eat.   And who can resist that pizza at 3 am from the pizza place at the top of campus?  However, you have to remember that pizza won’t keep you looking trim.  This is why we’ve put together some suggestions to help you avoid the freshman fifteen.

Avoid late-night snacking.  A recent study at Northwestern University has actually proven that those who eat late at night gain about 28% more weight than those who eat during regular hours.  If you’re trying to avoid the freshman fifteen, it’s probably not the best idea to eat that pizza at 3 am.

Eat balanced meals.  You should be splitting up your meals based on a balance of proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats.  It’s significantly healthier for you to be eating a variety of foods, rather than just carbohydrates, even if you are eating fewer calories.

Keep a stock of healthy snacks in your room.  This will keep you from ordering out for pizza or heading down to the vending machine when you’re a little hungry.

Limit the fast food.  Even though it can be significantly more convenient when you’re on the run, it can be one of the leading causes of the freshman fifteen.  While it’s not friendly for your body, it’s also as equally unfriendly for your wallet.  In Debby Mayne’s article “Healthy Eating Habits for College Students,” she explains that if you do eat out, you should avoid French fries and other fried foods, and order a salad or sandwich that doesn’t contain on that fried and greasy meet.  She also suggests that if you’re ordering pizza, you stay away from pepperoni and add toppings like olives, mushrooms, green peppers and even Canadian bacon (it’s lower in fat than pepperoni).

Drink water.  According to an article by Yonika Willis at Livestrong.com, drinking more water can actually help you lose weight because it makes you feel fuller and helps you to avoid overeating.  Willis explains that by drinking eight 8-oz. glasses of water daily, you can burn off almost 35,000 calories a year, or about 10 pounds. It also doesn’t hurt to drink water throughout the day so you don’t become dehydrated.

Limit sugar.  Even though that Red Bull or that candy bar can get you through long nights of studying, it’s not the best idea if you’re trying to avoid the freshman fifteen.  Limit the foods and drinks that are full of sugar, and reduce the amount you put in your coffee and tea.

Avoid taking your coffee with cream.  Coffee is the lifeblood of the college student, but what many students may not know is that taking their coffee with cream could be added a significant number of calories and fat to their diet that they don’t factor in.  According to another article by Kristen McCarty at Livestrong.com, a typical medium coffee from a coffee shop is about 16 oz, and while the calories in black coffee is minimal, you add about 50 calories for every teaspoon of cream you put in.  Cream can also be anywhere 18 to 30 percent fat.  That’s why it’s better to start taking your coffee with skim milk (adds only about 10 calories per 2 tablespoons) or black, as it will add fewer calories.

While it’s important to be sure that you have a balanced diet, it’s also important to have fun.  Having pizza every now and then is certainly not a problem, but just keep in mind that everything should be in moderation.  It’s the all-the-time and the excess that will have you seeing the freshmen fifteen.

Other articles we referenced:

“Late Night Eating Linked to Weight Gain” by Tara Parker-Pope

Healthy Dining Hall Eating at KidsHealth.org

Healthy Eating in College:  How to Avoid the Freshman 15 at Freshman15.com

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