The back to school healthy eating craze isn’t just for the kiddos at home with Mom and Dad. Many of my readers are sending their big kids off to college for the first time. Since I’m about 12 years removed from my freshman year [GO GREEN!] I asked my friend [and future registered dietitian] Jill to share some tips and tricks that helped her beat the freshman 15. Let’s give it up for Jill!
With two years of college under my belt, I’ve come to realize ‘The Freshman 15’ is unfortunately more common than one would assume. Eating in a cafeteria every day increased my sense of freedom when it came to choosing the foods I ate, while my self-control was almost non-existent. Pizza, fries, and ice cream were everyday choices in the cafeteria. Even if I didn’t want to eat in the cafeteria, Burger King, McDonalds, and Taco Bell were all within a mile from where I stayed.
The University’s cafeteria may not be as healthy as a Farmer’s market but there are still healthier choices students can make. At my college, fruit smoothies are an option every morning. During the day there is a salad bar, an area to make your own sandwich with healthy toppings, and there is always of vegetables being served in the main hot meal line. There’s more to eating healthy in college than just choosing the healthy foods in your school’s cafeteria. Here’s 7 ways to beat the Freshman 15 [and technically Sophomore 15 too!]:
- Don’t skip meals: Sometimes it’s very hard to find the time to eat especially if your classes run back to back. Grab a banana or apple from the cafeteria to eat during your short breaks.
- Wake up 20 minutes earlier: We love any extra sleep we can get…but allow yourself to wake up 15-30 minutes earlier so you have time for breakfast. If you start the day off with a nice meal, you’re less likely to binge eat later in the day.
- Limit eating out: If you live off campus, avoid eating out all the time. Often, when I meet up with friends, it is common to go out and eat. The problem with this is that portions are bigger and meals can be expensive. This will be my first year living off campus and I am excited to be able to grocery shop for myself. I can buy the foods I want and I can control how much I spend.
- Snack smart: Just because the cafeteria offers ice cream every night, this doesn’t mean you need ice cream every single night… at tempting as the soft serve might be. Pack some smart snacks that will keep you energized throughout the busy school day. Here’s a list of my favorite snacks to pack for between classes.
- Don’t eat impulsively: My roommate and I had an issue with eating later at night simply because we were bored and up late studying. The more demanding our classes became, the more stressed we were, and the more food we ate. Keep healthy snacks in a mini-fridge for times when you are really needing some extra energy during study-time. If you do happen to find yourself bored, instead of eating go to the gym or for a walk to de-stress.
- Don’t drink your calories: I had a hard time with this because of how easily available pop was every time I ate in the cafeteria. I tried drinking lemon water or low-fat milk every night for dinner rather than pop. Also, beer and alcohol consumption will catch up to you quickly. One can of beer is around 150 calories. On average, it takes about a mile to burn 100 calories. Think about how many miles you’d have to run to burn off that one night of drinking!
- Be prepared: There are a lot of helpful websites out there to help you avoid the ‘Freshman 15’. I did some searching myself and found some great websites with helpful tips on eating healthy in college:
- 8 Ways to Beat the Freshmen 15 by Eat Right
- How to Eat Healthy In College by The Lean Green Bean
- 101 Health and Wellness Tips for College Students by Rutgers-Camden Student Health Services
- Healthy College Eating by Teen Vogue
- Eating on a Budget by The Kitchn
- Top 10 Tips for Eating Healthy in College by JDFR
I think Jill did an awesome job of sharing what works [and roadblocks] to beating the freshman 15! They are practical tips for those of us still wishing we were in college too… Did I just say that?! I can’t help it it’s football season!!