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The Phenomenon of the Freshman 15

Ah, the college years. A memorable time for most because of the educational experience, the camaraderie, the independence and the fun! However, many young people have found they have gained more than just knowledge with their college experience—they gained pounds! It’s quite normal to gain a few pounds when starting college for many reasons. Some of those reasons have to do with scheduling/time, lack of adequate physical activity, snacking on the wrong foods, eating at odd hours, socializing and indulging in fatty foods too often. What can be done about this? You are in total control of your food consumption. The Freshman 15 is actually a myth. Most college students do not gain quite as much weight, but it’s not impossible to gain that much weight depending on your lifestyle. I remember when I was in college and my go to snack was crinkle-cut potato chips and a nice cold glass of apple juice. I didn’t gain quite as much weight as I could have because I lived off-campus and shopped and cooked for myself. I was pretty much in control of my food intake except for the potato chip thing, but I digress. Anyway, most youngsters who go away to school do not exercise the option of shopping and cooking for themselves—they have a meal plan. Many meal plans are “all you can eat” type options. Food is available for the asking or until you run out of money whichever comes first. It is important to understand that even with the “all you can eat” options, you can still control that by choosing healthier food options at the cafeteria like the salad bar. Be careful when adding items like bacon bits, cheese, and croutons; the calories add up quickly so be mindful of how much you are adding to your salad. Make sure you eat breakfast. Many students have schedules that begin early in the morning, which means they oftentimes skip breakfast. You can choose something to eat that is quick to grab like granola bars, fruit, whole-grain cereal with almond milk, and hard-boiled eggs. Choose foods that provide a lot of protein to keep you fuller longer. I understand that going away to college can be a happy time, but it can also be a scary time. Some students eat out of anxiety, stress, boredom, sadness…in other words people can be emotional eaters. Some ways of combating that is to get involved with an activity or join a club to fill the empty time and space. If you were a part of a sports team in high school, get involved with the sports team at your college. If you don’t want to do that, then go to the college gym and get moving! Ask your friends to join you going to the gym. Having a gym partner is a good thing! You can help keep each other motivated and energized. I know that sometimes going out with friends can be a challenge particularly if you are trying to watch your diet. The late night pizza runs and grease truck runs can become overwhelming at best. You should try to do those things in moderation. In addition, alcohol consumption causes empty calories to add up, but hopefully you’re not drinking especially if you are under age! I know, that was the mom in me talking, but I digress again. Drinking plenty of water is equally as important as eating right. It also helps you to not overeat particularly if you drink water before eating. Also, get a lot of rest. Yes, college is fun, but you need your rest too. Proper rest keeps certain hormones responsible for weight gain in control. As always, have a conversation with God to help keep your mind, body, and soul in check. You can also see a counselor on campus if you find that you are eating to fill a void. The choice is yours. Don’t let the dreaded Freshman 15 become your reality. Remember, you are in control. Be sure to make the right choices most of the time, and you will be fine! Live, laugh, love and pray. God Bless You with Good Health and Wellness, Antoinette

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please contact Antoinette Johnson

writingsbyasj@gmail.com

P.O. Box 7272, North Brunswick, NJ 08902

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