Preventing College Weight Gain
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN , author of Fighting the Freshman Fifteen
There are many controversies in the field of nutrition, but one thing everyone seems to agree with is that it’s easy to gain weight! All it takes is a subtle disruption in the energy balance of the body. That can happen when we consume more calories (energy) than we need or are not active enough to use up all of the calories (energy) we’ve consumed – or a bit of both.
Living on a college campus can make it even easier to gain weight. The notorious “freshman 15” may be a bit exaggerated, but even gaining five pounds is more weight than most students want or need. Learning how to balance your energy while away at college may be one of the best lessons you can learn.
Here are 10 Tips for Fighting the Freshman Fifteen to help keep you in energy balance from your first year on campus to the last!
- Start your day with a meal – no matter what time you wake up – to avoid random snacking for the rest of the day. Even a leftover slice of cheese pizza and a glass of orange juice counts as a meal!
- Take advantage of the breakfast items available all day for a nutritious and lower calorie meal, such as a cereal, yogurt, fruit parfait, vegetable omelet, or peanut butter and sliced banana on a toasted English muffin.
- Stock the mini fridge and personal food bin in your dorm room with single-serving calorie-controlled foods and drinks you can eat on the go, such as low calorie drinks in cans or bottles, granola bars, fruit cups, hummus, cheese sticks and yogurt.
- Schedule your physical activity for certain days and times each week, just like a class, so you’re sure to get it done – and never miss the chance to walk or ride a bike instead of taking a car or bus to class.
- Keep your hot and cold drinks lower in calories by adding a no calorie sweetener instead of sugar and choosing diet or low-calorie beverages made with them.
- Explore the international and vegetarian food choices in the cafeteria to find more flavorful vegetable-based dishes that are lower in calories than standard American fare.
- Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with like-minded house mates to have a steady supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs all semester long and the chance to burn some calories working on the farm to pay for your share.
- Reach for some sugar-free frozen yogurt topped with berries for a sweet treat, instead of regular ice cream covered in candy bits.
- Have designated eating places on campus for eating (cafeteria, student lounge) and other places that are off-limits (library, lecture hall) so you won’t snack mindlessly everywhere.
- Stay in motion when not studying by playing competitive Virtual Console games, joining an intramural team, trying out new equipment at the fitness center, taking a Zumba class, swimming laps at the pool.
An advisor for the Calorie Control Council, Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness. Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.