Welcome to college! The next 4 years will be the best years of your life. There’s nothing like leaving home for the first time, jumping into the bliss of independence and making bad decisions. You’ll be able to stay up as late as you want, over sleep your alarm, and consume way too many empty calories while tailgating the football games. College seems amazing! You have access to all the food you want and no parental supervision….I mean come on who wouldn’t want to have a late night slice of pizza, three servings of ice cream at traditions or even a warm chocolate chip cookie when you’re finished with lunch. But if you’re not careful the dreaded freshman 15 can catch up to you real quick and those brand new jeans you just bought, to look good at the game next weekend, will no longer button. So here is some advice on how to avoid gaining those extra 15 pounds no one wants to admit to gaining.
- Hire someone to smack that cookie out of your hand you pick up at the dining hall after every meal. Since most students have no self control over the delicious sweets that are put in front of them, you can put someone else in charge of keeping your diet more healthy.
- Set an alarm for 5 minutes before a huge exam. This way when you wake up late and freak out that you’re not going to make it to your exam on time it forces you to run to class. You’ll realize how out of shape you are and get yourself back into the gym.
- Speaking of the gym, you may join a club sport to play recreationally since you use to play in high school. After practice you’re going to want to sit down and eat with your friends. Remember starting left bench is not the same as actually playing in high school. You can’t expect to eat the same and lose weight.
- In high school you were probably use to your parents cooking you dinner every night, making sure it was somewhat healthy…well in college they’re not here to cook your meals. So if you live close enough, go home to have them feed you. That way you won’t have to worry about consuming 1,000 calories from a loaded potato pizza from the PAD.
- If you don’t live close enough, it’s time to start paying attention to what you are eating. Everything has calories. Maybe you should rethink your order of an asiago cheese bagel with cream cheese, a cookie and a large buckeye mocha latte. If you eat that every morning I can promise that you will not be able to button your pants in a couple of weeks.
- Dining halls have so much delicious carb heavy food. Who wouldn’t want to eat pasta, with broccoli cheese soup and churro cupcake every single day? I can tell you it feels really good walking around feeling extremely full and bloated…But maybe try adding some plants into your diet. A good fresh salad (not smothered in ranch, bacon and cheese) or a side of vegetables instead of french fries can taste delicious and help combat that disgusting bloat you’ve been feeling for the last 4 days.
- Remember that water is your best friend. The first sign of thirst is hunger. You may have no insight as to whether you’re hungry or thirsty. Next time your stomach is growling after you consumed gross take out Chinese, try drinking a full glass of water. You maybe more thirsty than hungry (since we all know Chinese food is filled with salt and MSG).
- Water is also essential for keeping our body healthy. Granted a nice refreshing pop or juice can taste delicious at times but depriving your body of water can do more harm than good. Water has this magical power to make you feel full, especially when bored. Try increasing your water intake to 8 glasses a day. Rule of thumb is you want your urine be light yellow to clear. So when you go to the bathroom next and your urine is bright to dark yellow, you know you’re not drinking enough water.
- It is inevitable to not feel stressed while taking 12 credits and going out every night. I mean why would you start studying for a test now when you can put it off until the night before and cram. Try to eliminate getting too stressed out. An increase in stress can lead to stress eating as well as increased hormones. This can ultimately lead to weight gain and acne you haven’t seen since you hit puberty.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep to be productive. It may not be a good idea to go see “IT” if you know you’re not going to sleep for the next 10 days. Many times when you’re over exhausted you start grabbing for sugary substances to keep you awake. This does not help with trying to avoid gaining weight.
- But when you don’t sleep enough, energy drinks always sound like a great idea. Next time you grab one why don’t you flip the can around and look at the calories. With over 200 calories in a Monster energy drink, you may want to rethink grabbing those empty calories. Opt for some black coffee or tea. But if you have to have that energy drink maybe try grabbing for one of the sugar free or low calorie ones.
- When all else fails just go out and buy bigger clothes. Your student loans will really appreciate being spent on new clothing that one day you’ll have to payback at 5% interest.
Remember as a student it is really easy to fall into a bad routine since it’s a lot of people’s first time away from home. While many people joke about gaining the freshman 15, it happens to the best of us. Just be conscious about what you consume. You are probably not working out as vigorously as you did in high school, so you can’t eat the same way. College can be a stressful at times. Find ways to cope with stress whether it’s meditation, exercise or a hobby. It is best if you don’t turn to food during the stressful times. And if all else fails, go talk to someone about getting healthier. Take advantage of the registered dietitian at Student Health Services. They are here to help discuss your diet and encourage you to make the lifestyle changes you want to make. And if scheduling an appointment with the registered dietitian doesn’t fit into your schedule there are other options available on campus at the wellness center in the RPAC. You do not have to gain the freshman 15…it is up to you.
Dayna Gewolb, PharmD Candidate Class 2018