College is no doubt one of the most memorable times in the life of a developing student, but it can also be of the most stressful period of their lives.
For freshman students especially, balancing school and social life can prove particularly daunting and the initial struggle of adapting to a new lifestyle can have a significant impact on their health.
In fact, all over the world, students have fallen victim to the freshman 15 phenomenon -an expression used to loosely describe the weight first-year students gain in their freshman year.
While there is much debate on the accuracy of the 15-pound estimation, research proves that most students do gain weight in their first year of college.
How do students get it?
During university, students tend to consume a significant amount of energy-dense foods that lack nutrients and minerals.
While studying, the majority of students opt for French fries, cheeseburgers and pizza over salads and fresh fruits, because these foods are considered cheaper and more convenient.
Not to mention, these fast food staples also serve as comfort foods that help students cope with the stress from their studies.
Unfortunately, such foods are often high in sodium, sugar and saturated fat and also help students to pack on the pounds.
How can the Freshman 15 be avoided?
1. Aim for healthy options- Students wishing to avoid the freshman 15 should make a conscious effort to cut down on unhealthy foods or avoid them altogether. Most junk food contains too much salt, calories and sugar. Consuming too many foods with such content can lead to dire health consequences.
2. Try to eat at home- Most students would have been accustomed to their parents preparing their meals. This newfound freedom can lead to poor meal choices. Still, it is always best to buy fresh and prepare meals at home. This is because homemade meals are generally healthier, plus studies show that people tend to eat fewer calories when eating in.
3. Eat fast food in moderation- The likelihood of college students completely avoiding fast food could translate to them potentially starving altogether. Still, students should aim for at least three home-cooked meals a week. Meal prepping can increase a student’s chances of achieving a balanced diet, and it proves significantly cheaper than paying to eat out every other day.
4. Prioritize exercise- College can be busy, but students should make time in their schedule to hit the gym for a few hours at least once a week. Exercise has been proven to aid in the alleviation of stress and it also helps to sharpen a student’s concentration and cognitive processes.
5. Check out the Health & Wellness Centre- Most universities have a wellness centre that offer students information and services on how they can achieve a healthy lifestyle. If a student is truly interested in living healthy but not too certain as to where to start, this is the perfect place to speak to a professional and get advice and guidance.
While the freshman 15 saying is somewhat exaggerated, incoming college students should make an active effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet.
Regular exercise and healthy eating are linked to energy, worth ethic and drive, and these factors play a major role in determining a student’s overall success in one of the most crucial periods of their lives.