Katie’s Healthy Bites: Avoiding the Freshman 15

by in Back to School, September 5, 2010

avoiding the freshman 15

Summer is winding down and the first signs of fall are the thousands of college students returning to begin the new school year. Whether you are staying close to home or moving far away, one fact remains true to all: Between now and winter break, many new students will gain the dreaded “Freshman 15.” Here are some tips to avoid it.

The Causes
Weight gain at college is not a new issue. Many things contribute: junky snack choices, poor choices in the cafeteria and, of course, the partying and late night pizzas. Here are five ways to prevent weight gain, live healthy at school and not deprive yourself of college staples!

1: Eat Breakfast
Though it’s easier to roll out of bed and run to those early morning classes, breakfast is not the meal to skip. It jump-starts your metabolism and gives you energy to concentrate in class and get through the day. Don’t worry, if you can’t make it to the dining hall, stock up on these inexpensive grab-and-go breakfast options:

  • Whole grain mini bagel or English muffin with peanut butter or almond butter both provide a healthy mix of wholesome grains and filling protein.
  • Yogurt with fresh fruit is a quick and easy source of calcium and fiber.

2: Stock Up on Healthy Snacks
Lets face it, studying can make you hungry! As long as you have good-for-you grub hanging around your dorm room, you are less likely to over indulge on unhealthy stuff. Pair lean proteins with healthy carbs for lasting energy and satiety. Here are some good options:

  • Trail mixes travel well in a backpack, and are a well-balanced, portion-controlled snack that won’t go bad quickly.
  • Fresh fruit can go bad quickly, so opt for unsweetened dried or dehydrated fruits that are packed with immune-fighting antioxidants. Pair with a light cheese for a filling, satisfying snack.
  • Pair sweet, crunchy veggies like snap peas, carrots and peppers with hummus or tzatziki.

3: Don’t Drink Your Meals
Alcohol, juice and soda calories can quickly add up so be as mindful of the calories you drink as those that you eat. Some things to remember:

  • Drink water and jazz it up with a slice of orange or cucumber for extra flavor
  • Remember that on average a single beer has 100-200 calories…it will add up, you do the math
  • Juice does not equal fruit. Eat the real thing for more nutrition, far fewer calories and less sugar. Cant do without OJ in the morning? Limit yourself to 4oz, or water it down for more volume.
  • Unsweetened ice tea is a flavorful, no-calorie beverage. Want sweet without the sugar? Opt for white teas, which have a natural sweetness, and add mint or citrus to jazz it up.

4: Choose Smarter Late-Night Snacks
Wisely choose your late night munchies to prevent weight gain and make the most of the time you are sleeping. Here are some healthier swaps for favorite snacks:

  • Swap pretzels or popcorn for high fat chips
  • To save calories and Zzzz’s, swap pizza for a sandwich like turkey and cheese. High fats foods digest slowly, which can rob you of sound sleep.
  • Skip the chocolate before bed as the caffeine can keep you up all night. Instead, choose fruit with PB or animal crackers to sooth your sweet tooth
  • Need a boost while studying? Choose a wholesome, low sugar cereal to tide you over. You’ll wake up energized and refreshed for your test.

5: Remember Proper Portions

Most dining halls have enough variety to please even the pickiest palate. But remember: every meal should not be an all-you-can-eat buffet. Remember these portion-control tips:

  • Choose smaller potions or caloric fried and high fat foods and pair with a healthy side of fruit or veggies to fill you up.
  • Visit the salad bar for a healthy side or meal but avoid the calorie rich toppings like cheese, croutons and creamy dressings.

Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, personal chef and owner of HealthyBites, LLC. See Katie’s full bio »

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Comments (87)

  1. Rebekah says:

    I wish I would have been able to read this before I started college! I understand how to eat healthy now, but this is great information for someone who is unfamiliar with how to get proper nutrition.

  2. Meredith says:

    This is great! I am in college now and always love reading up on snacks fit for our busy schedules! Another idea for breakfast…if you can't break away from your favorite sweet cereals, mix it with several other whole grain cereals that have little sugar in them. I love to mix granola, total, cheerios and cinnamon toast crunch!

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