The Unavoidable Freshman Year Weight Gain!

December 5, 2011 Category: College Tips

College Eating Habits Adds LBS

College eating habits and lifestyles can add pounds to students.  Research has shown that the first year in college students often gain weight.  This has been come to be known as the “Freshman 15,” the number of average units for students but also the number of pounds one could expect to gain in that first year.


In that first year students confront a range of different factors that can attribute to this weight gain.  For many it is the first time away from home and experience a big change in dietary patterns and food intake.  This weight gain is also related to the stress and the sedentary lifestyle students must contend with especially their freshman year.

Can This be Avoided

There are several things that students can do to avoid some of the weight gain and decline in diet quality that may occur during those college years.

Avoid Skipping Meals:  Due to class and work schedules many meals are skipped and food intake is very disordered. Try beginning the day with a “healthy” breakfast.  Studies have found a positive relationship between eating breakfast and first-year college students’ grade-point averages.  Keep fresh fruit, bread for toast or single-serving juice containers in your room for those days that your time is limited. This can help prevent those mid-morning cravings for sugary treats that contribute to weight gain and can help you focus on your classes.

Keep tabs your fast food intake.  Try to limit that option or at least bypass the French fries and other fried foods.  Perhaps sticking with salads or sandwiches that do not contain that fried and greasy meat will help in avoiding that Freshman 15.

Healthy Snacks: Keep healthy snacks around instead of those chips and candy bars that seem so much easier.  Snacks such as raw fruits and vegetables, yogurt, popcorn, low-fat string cheese, granola bars, trail mix, and applesauce are better options.

Limit Sugar and Alcohol:  Sugar is low in nutrition and high in calories.  You do not have to cut it out completely, but be aware of how much sugar you are eating and put a limit on it.

Alcohol also contains calories but again like sugar has no nutritional value.  Students are probably better off college abstaining from alcohol, but if you do drink, limit yourself to one cocktail, glass or wine or beer. Peer pressure is often a factor, so maybe you can offer to be the designated driver and stick with drinking water or juice.

Stay Hydrated:  Your body needs water.  By drinking eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day prevents dehydration, which can wreak havoc on one’s system.

Exercise:  Physical activity helps burn calories, manages stress and promotes mental and physical stamina.  It also helps metabolism which is a definite plus when fighting weight gain.

Away from home for the first time, the freedom to eat what you want and when you want is all part of what could be the challenge in adjusting to the college lifestyle.  Fighting stress and probably a compromised immune system will also lend to the difficulties one faces.  In order to prevent that typical college weight gain and to stay “healthy” try adopting some “good” eating habits.  You will need all your energy and immunity reinforcements during your college years.

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