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Avoid the freshman 15

Avoid the Freshman 15 | UPMC Health Plan

Heading off to college as a freshman is pretty exciting, maybe up there with the most exciting times of your life. If you’re like most freshmen, the new school year means being away from home for the first time, meeting new friends, and figuring out where you have to go for class. College is a great time to become really healthy — you will have a lot of extra free time to go for a run or hit the gym. But it can also bring with it some unhealthy habits that can lead to the dreaded “freshman 15.”

The freshman 15 is a term coined for kids who gain weight during their first few months at school because of the availability of already cooked and easy to grab high-calorie foods, among other factors. Most college campuses offer buffet dining where it is very easy to load up a tray with a slice of pizza, a chicken sandwich, fries covered in cheese, and ice cream all at the same time. And that’s not even mentioning all of the high-calorie drink choices available! The calories can quickly add up and lead to weight gain if you’re not mindful. But have no fear; here a few tips on how to avoid the freshman 15.

Remember the food groups



And no, candy and candy canes are not their own food group! Be sure to take advantage of the fruit baskets and daily vegetable menu items; they are lower calorie options that can help to fill you up and keep you full.

Portion control



Eating higher calorie options combined with not exercising can be one the biggest culprits leading to the freshman 15. If you go with higher calorie options, then eat those less often and eat smaller portions. Choosing lower calorie options allows you to eat more and get nutrients from healthy sources.

Avoid late-night binge eating



It can be really easy to stop at drive-through or order a pizza late at night when you are hungry. Instead, try to keep healthier options in your dorm or apartment to snack on.

Remember to exercise



Being in college is one of the only times in life when you will not only have the free time to fit in physical activity, but you will also be able to work out without paying high monthly gym memberships. Also look into intramural sports; they can be a great way to burn calories and stay in shape, and also a great way to meet new people. Not sure what to do on campus to stay active? Check out this article.

Don’t drink all of your calories



Most college cafeterias have a wide variety of drink choices available ranging from milk to pop to iced tea as well as water. Save the extra calories for nutrient-dense food or for an extra snack between classes.