While moving away from home can be an exciting new adventure it can also be nerve racking since you don’t know what to expect.
Although college-hood is a time of self-discovery, freedom, and choices it can also be a time for expanding waistlines.
The term “freshman 15” was coined by students because a majority of first year college students gain weight. You don’t have access to a kitchen, and most of your meals are at a dining hall with lots of options but limited healthy ones.
In addition, it can be challenging being away from home for the first time, which leads to emotional/comfort eating, never mind late night partying and drinking.
So how do you fuel yourself at college to stay happy and healthy?
Schedule in a high protein breakfast every day.
Although skipping breakfast may save time in your schedule, it puts you behind the eight ball with little brainpower left for study and classes. Choosing a nutritionally healthful breakfast goes a long way in sustaining your energy so here’s some ideas:
- Choose a high protein option – most cafeterias will have omelet bars or hard boiled eggs, and plain yogurt. Add in some nuts or seeds for extra protein. Choose a bowl of fresh fruit on the side or have a banana, orange, apple, or pear as most cafeterias offer that option.
Eat every 3-4 hours to maintain blood sugar levels and avoid temptation to eat processed packaged foods leading to fatigue and carb cravings.
Eat mindfully when studying and avoid snacking on candy, popcorn, and chips, which saps more than your energy: it lowers your immune system leading to increased colds and flues and weight gain, while decreasing concentration.
So what DO you snack on?
- Raw or dry-roasted nuts and seeds
- String cheese and fruit
- Packets of natural nut butters
- Bars with no more than 5-6 ingredients
- Healthy beef jerky with no nitrates or sugar added
For lunches and dinners choose the healthiest protein option available and combine with a salad or available veggies. If you are going out to a function, make sure to eat a small meal to limit the pizza, chips and drinks.
Remember a glass of wine, a beer or 1 shot of vodka is equal to eating a slice of bread so having a few shots can quickly strip your calorie and carb bank account.
So if you want to continue fitting into your high school jeans, choose your snacks and beverages wisely to avoid weight bankruptcy during your first year of college. You don’t want your college-hood freedom to turn into a weight gain prison.
This blog was co-written by Susan Dopart and RD intern Farah Alrajaan