How To Beat The Freshman 15
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on September 24, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Going off to college is one of the most exciting times in any young person’s life. As they move into their dorm room they are presented with a new found independence and responsibility. However, that does not simply apply to a college student’s academic career. This new found independence can bring about opportunities for unlimited junk food as well as episodes of emotional eating. All of this can lead to a thicker middle.
All parents are worried that their child will pack on the pounds in a matter of months whilst living away at college. Discussing the consequence of bad eating habits with your child will help them in making better eating decisions.
So how can the Freshman 15 lbs that so many students gain be avoided?
Stick to Your Schedule
College brings a much looser schedule to its students. This can have a detrimental effect on your eating habits. At times you might find yourself not eating until late in the day, and then your body hits starvation mode where you eat anything that you can get your hands on. Instead, you should try to build an eating schedule into your day. Be sure that you map out three times a day for you to actually sit down to have a meal. Additionally, you should try to build in about two or three snacks throughout the day. This will help to keep your metabolism at a higher rate which helps you stave off that extra weight and will also keep your energy levels up so that you can concentrate during your classes.
Beware of ‘All You Can Eat’
Most colleges offer an ‘all you can eat’ or buffet style meal plan for its students at their dining hall. This can be a blessing and a curse. Typically, you can get a lot of variety for a very affordable price, but you can also usually pile on a rather large plate which can derail any well intended diet. A good rule of thumb is to really pay attention to what you are putting on your plate. Think of each plate as an opportunity to properly fraction off your nutrition. Fill half of your plate with fresh vegetables, and take care that they are not smothered in sauce or dressing. Then split the remaining half of your plate between rich whole grain foods and nourishing proteins.
You Are What You Drink
One thing that is often forgotten is that most drinks contain hefty calories as well. There are many different drinks that you might think are healthy that actually pack quite a punch on your waistline. Fruit juices and smoothies are generally jam packed with sugars, and they can sneakily start to add pounds to your frame. Sodas can also quickly add on the pounds too, as it is readily available, and in some cases your meal plan will even cover trips to the vending machine to get it. Take note as to how much soda you are drinking each day. Be careful in drinking too much alcoholic beverages as well. Alcohol has some of the highest calorie counts of all of the sugary drinks. Instead of ingesting unhealthy and empty calories try to make smarter drinking choices. Your best bet is to always carry a bottle of water with you at all times. You can usually refill it throughout the day at various drinking fountains found around campus.
Every college kid loves receiving a care package from home. But don’t just include those yummy cookies that your child grew up eating, also include a variety of nutritious and fun foods as well. Care packages don’t always have to be about food though; you can also send gifts such as a pair of new running shoes or a tennis racquet. Items such as these will help encourage your child to stay active whilst in college.
There are many things that parents find that they have to fork out money for during their child’s first year at college. Let a gym membership be one of those things! Although most colleges do have their own gyms they are not always open during the hours when your child will have the time between classes to workout. Sometimes, being a member of a private gym has a lot more perks as well.
Whenever you visit your child in college, take them on a funded trip to the grocery store. This is a great way to teach your child to make healthy choices when it comes to their food, and it will give you piece of mind too.
Photo Credit: anne.oeldorfhirsch
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan