How to avoid the freshman 15


Fit Facts

By Blake Glosson

After 18 years of home-cooked meals, it can be difficult to adjust to college life without making unhealthy convenience foods a staple of your diet.

Fortunately, with proper preparation, you can overcome barriers and maintain a healthy diet during your college experience.

As a freshman, this is the first time you’ll be buying your own food. This adaptation often throws students’ diet out of whack — balanced meals are quickly abandoned for sugary snacks and fast food.

To combat these foreseeable hiccups, it’s important to shop wisely. Make an effort to stock your mini-fridges or residence hall cupboards with nutritious foods such as grains, vegetables and fruits. These choices will help curb hunger and keep your brain alert and active.

Another useful strategy is to plan out meals to bring to your classes. Instead of waiting until you get hungry and then grabbing anything available from vending machines, pack some on-the-go meals such as tuna or chicken salads with light mayonnaise, natural peanut butter sandwiches or colorful salads with fruits and nuts.

Snacks such as pistachios, edamame, Greek yogurt, string cheese, cottage cheese and fruit or veggie cups with guacamole or hummus are also nutritious and portable options.

If you eat out, opt for less processed choices such as a burrito bowl from Chipotle, grilled chicken subs or wraps from Panera or Subway, salads from anywhere or sushi and other seafood that isn’t fried. Avoid or limit dressings, cheeses, mayonnaise, sauces and fried foods.

While eating at dining halls, make lean meats, eggs and salads the primary components of your meals.

As for beverages, whether it’s syrupy sodas, processed juices or sugary energy drinks, student health nationwide has taken a major blow from cheap and accessible unhealthy beverages. Rather than dumping a truckload of sugar into your body, give it what it really craves by making water your foremost choice of beverage.

If you need a pick-me-up, grab a premium-roast black coffee or a cup of antioxidant-rich green or black tea.

Of course, as a college student, it’s unrealistic to expect perfection with dieting. In fact, it’s best to give yourself some leeway within reasonable limits. If you characterize yourself as a healthy eater, than a treat here and there isn’t a big deal. Just be ready to hop back on the healthy train before you wander too far into the depths of Junkville.

Screw the freshman 15; be the freshman that’s fit and lean. Start building good habits now — making smart, daily diet choices can provide you with huge health benefits over the course of your college career.