Before I went off to college, I had many fears about the next four years of my life. I wondered about the workload, homesickness and making new friends, finding my way around, and the dreaded Freshman 15. I actually thought the Freshman 15 was an inevitable part of college, and that late night pizza deliveries and endless dining hall desserts were just a fact of college, like exams and papers.
If the Freshman 15 is something you find yourself in fear of, you can breathe a sigh of relief because a nationwide study conducted by the Ohio State University found that it is just a myth. The study featured data from 7, 418 people between the ages of 13 and 17 in 1997, and continued to interview them about their weight and college status each year since. What the study found was that only 10% of students actually gained 15 or more pounds during their freshman year! Women, on average, gained 2.4 pounds and men gained an average of 3.4 pounds as freshman. A quarter of the participants were found to actually have lost weight! So where does the small weight change come from? Simply growing up and becoming an adult. (source)
If you are still worried about the Freshman 15, or would simply like to pick up a healthy new lifestyle, college provides a great opportunity to do this.
In the dining hall:
SUNY dining halls are excellent in providing a variety of healthy choices. Use it to your advantage!
Simple tips to sneak in healthy food at the dining hall
- Enjoy a fresh salad, topped with a lean meat such as skinless grilled chicken, sliced turkey, or protein-packed beans (garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils)
- Ask for your sandwich on whole wheat bread, and pile fresh veggies onto your sandwich such as lettuce and tomato, cucumbers, onion, bell pepper strips- just skip the mayo!
- Swap out a hamburger for a leaner meat such as skinless grilled chicken or a turkey burger, or even a fiber-filled veggie burger!
- Try an egg white omelet. They are low in cholesterol and high in protein! Fill it with veggies and skip the bacon.
- Start your day the right way by having a bowl of whole grain cereal such as cheerio’s or raisin bran with skim milk and fresh fruit.
Moderation is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle, so don’t feel that you can’t have your favorite treats like French fries or dessert. Limit those items to a few times a week, and really savor the moment when you are eating them!
In your dorm room:
Residence halls are a great part of the SUNY experience. This is probably where you will meet your first friends, do your homework, and relax. Make it a part of your healthy lifestyle by keeping healthy choices there!
Healthy options for your new home
- Keep healthy breakfast items in your room in case you don’t have time to hit the dining hall before class. Whole grain cereal, skim milk, fresh fruit, granola bars, yogurt, oatmeal, and peanut butter are all great options!
- Eating a small snack between meals can be a great way to help you control your weight and stave off hunger. Easy small snack choices (less than 200 calories) can include string cheese made with skim milk, veggie sticks and hummus, whole grain crackers, trail mix, yogurt, fresh fruit, peanut butter, and popcorn.
- For a small sweet treat, keep individually wrapped dark chocolate pieces, pudding made with skim milk, or frozen yogurt bars, fruit bars, or small ice cream bars on hand! They can be a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without sending you overboard.
Keeping or adopting a healthier lifestyle in college is something that can be both attainable and enjoyable. Be sure to take advantage of the campus gym and exercise classes to keep your body as healthy as you can!