You’ve all heard of it: the dreaded “freshmen-15”, but let’s talk about how it’s not a fate written in stone for all of you who are college-bound.
Hello friends! Did you have a wonderful weekend? I hope so! This weekend we were in full on move-in mode (for the last time ever until I get my own apartment somewhere which’ll be a whole different kind of scary/awesome experience altogether) and today I started classes back up! Mondays are super light for me so not too much to complain about really. Just some good ol’ Medical Nutrition Therapy I (maybe I’m a little terrified?).
So I know we’re in the midst of back-to-college season, and I know there are more than a few of you who have heard how challenging it can be to maintain healthy habits when you’re living anywhere but at home. Now this’ll be my sixth year in those circumstances, and while I’ve been living in an apartment for the last few, I did my fair share of time in a dorm room finding sustenance at a less-than-stellar dining hall (naturally it wasn’t until the first year I got an apartment my alma mater decided to step up their game). But, I digress. My point is I’ve been in your shoes and I know how difficult it can be.
Let me take you back to my senior year in high school where I had some unhealthy tendencies shying toward poor body image and overexercising (I have talked briefly about this in a previous post). After I was at my thinnest, I did put weight on in college and it’s taken me some time to find a happy medium. It wasn’t so much the dining hall meals that did me in, rather their dessert spreads, the cafe food on campus, snacking, ordering out, and maybe perhaps getting cookies and having them delivered at 12am (I’m not joking though – you seriously need to try out Insomnia Cookies if you’ve never had it). In the dining hall I got pretty sick of the food they were serving after awhile and ended up sustaining myself on made-to-order sandwiches (which I still sometimes crave haha), whole wheat pasta with Italian dressing, grilled chicken, cooked vegetables, and salads. The sad thing is, this is not a joke.
Let’s talk about how to avoid putting on the pounds and still manage to eat healthily in college, but remember to still take the time to enjoy the college experience because sometimes ordering cookies and midnight is a necessity (aka: studying for finals).
Top Tip 1: in the dining hall hit up that salad bar/vegetable of the day section first. Yes, I know that pizza is glaring at you from across the buffet line, but hitting the veggies first and filling up half your plate leaves less room for other foods on your plate and in your stomach, and you can be sure to get proper nutrients in.
Top Tip 2: keep late night snacking to special occasions. This is one of the fastest ways to put on the pounds, trust me. It was my trap in college, and it’s something that can be avoided. Or, if you do like to munch at night make sure to keep healthier alternatives around so you can reach for those instead of more indulgent options. But, remember to have fun and don’t skip out on a late night study session with your friends because unhealthy snacks might be present. Simply bring a health alternative for everyone to munch on!
Top Tip 3: watch what you’re drinking. I’ll be honest with you, drinking can really add on the pounds fast especially when you’re drinking to the extent that many people do in college. I’m not saying cut out drinking entirely, but just be conscious of how much you do. If you’re going hard Thursday, Friday, and Saturday you’re going to see those extra pounds creep up. Instead, pick a night to go hard and keep it on the lighter side the rest of the weekend. Or, choose lighter beverages during the night instead of mixed drinks which are packed full of sugar. We still gotta have fun, right? Just don’t forget to hydrate! 😉
Top Tip 4: when you order take out (or go out to eat), save half of it for the next day. Not only are you cutting the calories of that dish in half, but you’ve got a built-in meal for the next day. When I was in a dorm room I always did this and made the meal last so I wouldn’t have to suffer dining hall food the next night and I didn’t even need a stove top. When you’re living in a dorm capitalize on this – especially when family comes to visit and takes you out!
Top Tip 5: exercise or just get out there and move. It doesn’t matter what you do, I just want you to take a break from the textbooks, the partying, and the sitting still. Many colleges offer fitness classes and have gyms that you can go to for free. Take advantage of this – it may be the only time you ever have a free membership to a gym 😉 Or, make it simpler and go out and talk a walk around campus with your roommate! Make plans for active outings with your friends instead of watching a movie. The options are endless!
I hope this tips are helpful to those of you starting college for the first time, or even those who are going back for another year! And, I wish you the best of luck for the semester! 🙂
Question of the week: what are you most looking forward to this semester?
Image Credit: Image 1 (www.nextstepu.com); Image 2 (web.csulb.edu); Image 3 (my stock)