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15 Ways to Avoid the “Freshman 15”

Thousands of students across Canada have started their first year of college or university. For many, it’s their first real time away from home. They suddenly find themselves on their own, in a brand new place, without their parents around to keep them in check. This makes it easy to get off track and indulge in unhealthy behaviour – like binging on junk food and eating take-out around the clock.

If you’re starting your first year of post-secondary education this month or just heading back to class this semester, here are 15 ways to avoid the dreaded “Freshman 15.”

1. Don’t skip meals

While this may sound counterintuitive, skipping meals does more harm than good. Start your day off with a well-balanced breakfast, this will help steady your metabolism throughout the day.

2. Stock your room with healthy snacks

By stocking your room full of healthy snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables, trail mix and nuts, you’ll be less likely to binge on unhealthy alternatives.

3. Keep away from vending machines or fast food

Your body and your wallet will thank you.

4. Drink more water

Water is a necessity for your body to process calories, so the slightest bit of dehydration will slow down your metabolism.

5. Avoid eating while stressed

It’s a given that adapting to a new home and lifestyle will be stressful on you. You tend to eat more when you’re stressed, so be sure to keep your stress levels in check.

6. Eat slowly

Take a few moments to stop and enjoy your meal. If you eat while watching TV or studying, you’re likely to overeat since you aren’t paying attention to what goes in your mouth.

7. Pick lower-fat options when you can

Choose options like low-fat milk instead of whole milk or light salad dressing instead of full-fat dressing. All of those extra calories can quickly add up!

8. Watch your portion sizes

This is especially important in meal hall – just because you can overload your plate at no extra cost, doesn’t mean that you should. Learn more about how you should fill up your plate.

9. Don’t follow fad diets

Every other week there’s a new “magic” diet that promises to help you shed those pesky pounds while eating whatever foods you want. But the majority of fad diets promote an unhealthy and unbalanced diet, so they’re best avoided.

10. Get your beauty sleep

Your sleep routine is going to be disrupted by late-night study sessions and your new social life. A broken sleep pattern can lead to other health problems as well, so stick to a solid night of sound sleeping.

11. Join sports clubs

Join a recreation or intramural league at your school. You can usually find clubs for sports like basketball, soccer and even track.

12. Live an active lifestyle

Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take the long route to class. Walk to campus instead of taking the bus.

13. Find a fitness friend

Getting through the door is the most important thing, but research shows that having a fitness friend will give you the motivation to work harder.

14. Use your school’s gym

Normally the cost of using the school’s gym is covered in your student fees, and they may even offer classes on nutrition, personal training and weightlifting.

15. Remember to have fun

Pizza, coffee and bingeing Netflix are part of the first-year experience. And that’s ok as long as you proceed with caution.

Your turn: Share your tips to beat the “Freshman 15” in the comment section below.

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