Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Myth: Gaining the “freshman 15” can’t be avoided.

Answer: BUSTED!

The fear of gaining the “freshman 15” can be intimidating for first time college students. Fortunately most freshmen do not gain 15 pounds during their first year. The amount of weight gain is actually closer to 3 to 10 pounds.

College is a new lifestyle and environment for many students which can lead to stress and pressure to excel. Eating for comfort or stress relief become common habits for college freshman. There is also an increase in food exposure through buffet style cafeterias, restaurants on campus and vending machines in the dorms. Most students also become involved in many social events where food is usually readily offered.

Adjusting to a new environment can be both exciting and difficult but it is important to maintain healthy eating habits which will help prevent weight gain in college.

Tips to avoid the freshman 15:
  • Watch portion sizes
    • Don’t think of the cafeteria as an all-you-can-eat buffet!
    • Eat well rounded meals that include all of the food groups.
  • Exercise
    • College campuses are a great place to walk or ride your bike.
    • Regular exercise will also help relieve stress.
  • Get plenty of sleep
    • Irregular sleep patterns make it hard for your body to adjust.
    • Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Watch your drinks
    • Soda, sports drinks and many other beverages can pack in lots of extra calories.
    • Choose water as often as possible and limit other drinks to 1 a day.
  • Listen for hunger cues
    • Eat slowly so you recognize when you are full.
    • Just because there is food there doesn’t mean you have to eat it!
  • Eat smart snacks
    • Keep healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables handy so you always have a backup plan.
    • Many times we confuse thirst with hunger. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can prevent unnecessary snacking.

Additional health and nutrition information can be found at

Contributor: Jenna Silverthorne, Dietetic Intern, KU Med & Denise Schmitz, M.A., R.D., Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,

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