Nutrition professor and healthy eating expert Joan Salge Blake suggests that research to support the “Freshman 15” is minimal, and that a 15 pound weight-gain is not inevitable for college freshman. Salge Blake says “Some research suggests that the Freshman 15 is a myth as weight gain didn’t occur at all or didn’t occur in the majority of college students studied during the first semester (the length of the study) or the entire first year.”
Salge Blake says that weight gain doesn’t have to be part of the freshman curriculum if students learn how to avoid some of the pitfalls of college life and make some healthy food and behavior changes early on:
1) Don’t skip breakfast! If you do, odds are you will be hungry later on in the morning and be more likely to impulsively snack on calorie-dense foods from the vending machine or college convenience store. Eating a bowl of high fiber whole grain cereal (approximately 200 calories) will likely appease your hunger and allow you to bypass the 300+ calories in the cookies or other snack items. The cereal is a run away winner in the nutrition department compared to the cookies.
2) Don’t study by the microfrig. If studying at night causes you to nervously munch, don’t study in your dorm surrounding by chips and other snacks. Study at the campus library where eating is prohibited.
3) Walk off your stress. A change in lifestyle can be initially stressful. Release some of the emotional stresses of life at college on the walking path or treadmill not at the dining hall. When you feel wound up, lace up those sneakers and walk off the stress.
4) Make sure fruits and vegetables are a part of all your meals. They are chockfull of nutrition, water, and fiber and are low in calories. Fruits and vegetables will “fill you up before they fill you out”, unlike high calorie sweets, so are kind to your waist. Enjoy a salad with your lunchtime sandwich so that you will be so satisfied that you’ll ending up eating less dessert.
5) Don’t drink your calories. A 20-ounce bottle of soda packs over 250 calories. Drink low fat or skim milk with your meals and water in between.