How to Eat Clean And Battle the Freshman 15

1. Plan what you eat

As a freshman myself, I completely understand how overwhelming the packed dining halls can be. There is a plethora of delicious options available, which challenge your willpower to not load your plate as you circle the various food stations. What I’ve found is that I make the best choices in terms of food when I have an idea of what I want before entering the dining hall. Planning what you eat can be something so crucial to choosing the best options for you. When faced with so many options, we often eat with our eyes. If something looks good, we grab it. Also, with a buffet style food service people tend to take too large a portion and end up throwing away or wasting food. Luckily, many colleges offer their daily menus for each dining hall online or on their app to allow easy access for students. This has been my go-to method as I’ve been able to go in with the knowledge of what is available to me and what I want. This can also aid in avoiding getting up for seconds that you may not need (I know, the french fries or that slice of white pizza can be extremely convincing)!


2. Read food labels in the dining hall

When selecting what you want to eat, something that can be incredibly helpful are the food labels. UMass students are lucky enough to have them conveniently placed right above the food we can select in the dining halls. The food labels detail the nutritional value in each food, so you are able to see how much carbohydrates, proteins, or fats each food has. Being mindful of exactly what you’re putting in your body is always the key to success. 

3. Track your food intake

Coming into the semester with a brand new schedule to follow and many more responsibilities to uphold, it can be difficult to find time to assess your fitness goals. While writing in a food diary requires a lot of work, there are now various apps that can easily do the hard work for you! Last year I downloaded the app “My Fitness Pal” which can track both your dietary and fitness goals. In other words, you’re able to log what you eat and the exercise you perform daily in order to adequately stay on track while at school. This allows for you to track those healthy habits you need to avoid the freshman 15.


4. Motivate by going to the gym with friends or go to fitness classes

The Recreation Center on campus is a resource that all students should take advantage of. Not only are there different areas in the gym for different types of exercises, but there are a variety of classes that are available to all students as well! If you feel gym-shy or aren’t as comfortable working out around other people, these classes may be the perfect fit for you. They encourage you to go since you're required to sign up for them in advance (and no one likes to bail at the last minute)! You can also motivate yourself to work out by scheduling plans to go with your friends.


5. Stock your dorm with healthy essentials 

I will admit that I’m guilty of being an avid snacker. Whether it be late at night or while I’m bored, snacks tempt me and I often give in. This is why it has been incredibly important for me to stock my dorm room with healthy essentials, rather than all that cheesy goodness (I’m talking about you, Cheez-Its). This doesn’t mean that you need to cut snacking out entirely, but rather replace the snacks you may reach for with more healthy alternatives. Some necessities you may find in my dorm are Whisps cheese crisps, Moon cheese, Quest protein chips, Two Good yogurt, almonds, peanuts, Justin’s almond/peanut butter, cheese sticks, and Atkins caramel double chocolate crunch bars.


It's totally okay (and sometimes much needed!) to indulge in your favorite meals regardless of their nutritional value, but it's also important to have everything within reason. Try following some of these tips and see which ones work for you and hopefully the freshman 15 won't sneak up on you this semester! 

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