The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
We’ve all heard of the dreaded Freshman 15. The thought of gaining 15 pounds once you come to college is mind-torturing, especially for women. However, there are several tips that you can follow to stay healthy during your time at college, which can help build confidence, too!
Get Enough Sleep
In college, it is easy for us to take sleep off our list of priorities. Late night studying, partying, or simply just procrastinating could interfere with our sleep schedules. It is recommended to get 8-9 hours of sleep every night to stay healthy. Getting enough sleep can help reduce weight gain and poor mental health. According to the CDC’s website, not getting enough sleep can lead to higher risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and unstable mental health. These problems can make it hard to concentrate and focus during the day, especially during classes. To help improve your sleeping habits, set aside a period of 8-9 hours that will be designated as your sleeping hours. It is best to set these hours during the night, but you can set them for any time that best fits your schedule. Additionally, keep a diary to write down how many hours of sleep you got, the start and finish time that you were asleep, if you slept well or if it was a rough night, and what you did right before you went to sleep. It’s also important to turn off all electronic devices and to put all study materials away to ensure the best possible sleep experience because distractions can shorten your sleep schedule.
Don’t Skip Meals
With long hours of studying and going to classes, students tend to forget to eat. This can lead to bad eating habits that include skipping meals, overeating, binge eating, not eating enough, and eating disorders. If you have bad eating habits and skip meals, don’t worry because it’s not too late to change! One thing you can do is to write down everything you eat, the current time of day that you’re eating each meal, and how you are currently feeling. Your feelings could be about what you’re eating, if you’re hungry or not, and so on. Continuing this practice for a few days will allow you to see your eating habits from a broader viewpoint. You might find that you tend to eat more salty foods rather than sweets, or you might learn that you tend to eat more at lunch than at dinner. After you discover what your eating habits look like, you can assess how to change them to benefit your health. Figure out why you eat more at lunch than at dinner, and once you do that, keep a list of ways that you can replace those reasons with healthier habits. For example, if you find that you tend to eat more at lunch than at dinner because you watch TV while eating, try to avoid eating while watching TV for every meal, especially lunch. This can help reduce weight gain.
Avoid “Mini-Fridge” Studying
Often we tend to snack a lot when we study with our friends. Studying with other students in their dorm rooms often leads to bringing out whatever snacks and goodies are in their mini-fridges. This can lead to overeating, and the snacks provided are most likely unhealthy. Chips, crackers, candy, and other unhealthy foods are typically provided for study groups. If you find yourself going to a study group with unhealthy snacks, you don’t have to worry because there are a few ways to help manage the temptation. First, bring your own snacks that include healthy options such as fruits, vegetables, kettle popcorn, pretzels, etc. By doing this, you still get to enjoy snacking while studying but in a healthy way! You can also eat something beforehand to help reduce your hunger and need for food. If you get tempted to still eat the unhealthy snacks provided even after you ate before you showed up, you could try excusing yourself from the group to get a healthy snack from your dorm, drink water, or follow the practice of willpower to say no thank you. Doing these things will help your health in the long run!
Avoid High-Caloric Beverages
Drinking sodas, sports drinks, milkshakes, and other beverages that are high in calories is another factor that can lead to gaining weight in college. Drinking your calories is often a hidden cause of weight gain. Additionally, these drinks tend to have high amounts of sugars, fats, and other elements that lead to weight gain. To help avoid this, try substituting water for every beverage you drink. Water is the best option because it can help improve your appetite, skin, digestive system, energy levels, weight levels, and so on! However, this does not mean you have to give up your favorite beverage completely. It’s okay to occasionally have a soda or milkshake but try to limit these kinds of beverages for special events, such as parties or birthdays. You also want to make sure that you consume these beverages in moderation. In other words, limit yourself to only one or two milkshakes if you’re at a party.
Get Up and Walk Around
Sitting and laying down for long periods of time can also lead to weight gain. In college, we tend to sit at our desks or lay on our beds when we study or eat. Sitting or laying down for a long time can increase your risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, gaining weight, poor mental health, and other negative health factors. To help improve your sedentary lifestyle, you can try these few amazing tips to benefit your health and weight! The first thing you can try is to break up your study schedule by taking breaks every 30 minutes to stand up and walk around. A second tip you can try is to take the stairs instead of the elevator. You can also get a standing desk if you work at a desk all day. Walking to class is a healthier alternative than driving and organizing “walking groups” is another great way to get the blood flowing while also hanging out with friends!