Fighting the Freshmen 15
By Caroline Ely
(This is from my daughter who has more recent experience than I do. – Leanne)
I am a senior in college. One of my first memories upon arriving at my university was that people weren’t kidding when they warned me about the “freshmen 15”. Coming from a home with a well-rounded nutritional foundation, I quickly learned that in college cuisine it is just as difficult to get adequate sustenance, as it is to get a well-rounded education. I’m going to go ahead and list off three simple and effective tips on how to best avoid that unwanted weight.
First, just because you have a meal plan – or as my piers called it: “monopoly money” (little do we realize how real that money was) – it doesn’t mean you have to pile a thanksgiving feast onto your plate every day. You only need your general: protein, carb, and veggie. Trust me, that meal plan will carry through to the next day so there isn’t any need to eat like it’s the last day you’ll ever eat. I know that the temptation of monetary freedom can get out of hand fast so just be aware of how hungry your stomach is, as opposed to how hungry your imagination is!
Second, snacking is fine, but don’t just snack because you have the “monopoly money” and you can. You shouldn’t be eating past the regular dinner window that normally stays open between 6 and 9, and sure, occasionally circumstances won’t allow for anything but a late meal. There are always exceptions, but a lot of the pounds latching onto freshmen bodies lurk in the vending machines and miniature grocery stores around campus that seduce their meal plans and our imagination’s fantastic idea of the midnight snack. I know it sounds exciting to stay up to three in the morning every night and munch on ramen and candy, but after a couple weeks of it, you’ll feel the effects. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt (that was a size larger than what it used to be).
And last, but of course not least: make the right choice. You’ll always have a healthier choice option for meals. Sometimes you might see fried chicken next to grilled, aim for the grilled. Macaroni and cheese versus green beans, clearly green beans will benefit your health more. The choices are pretty obvious, but they’re so often neglected when you don’t have your mother breathing down your neck about eating right – as mine so often did. But if you’re a freshman, or you have a child that is about to go into college, just keep in mind that you should care about your own health enough to maintain a reasonable diet. You want to be able to enjoy your first year of college to the fullest, and you’ll need energy, not 15 extra pounds, to do so.
So the big question is, did I gain the freshmen 15? Honestly, I started to notice a few extra pounds that hadn’t found a home on my stomach and thighs prior to that first year. However, I didn’t let it get the best of me. I felt the weight of my food choices, quite literally, and took action. I’m blessed to attend a school in the mountains so just getting to one class is a hike in and of itself. So that helped with maintaining at least a base exercise if I didn’t have time to make it to the student recreation center to work out. And secondly, it’s amazing how sick of campus food you’ll get. It only took about a month for me to be burnt out of everything the school had to offer, I was ready to be in a kitchen, cooking and choosing my own meals. All of our dorms had kitchens, and you can believe that I took advantage of them. I had a choice, and that’s what you have to remember: it’s YOUR decision. Not your parents, not the school’s, just yours.