Reverse “Freshman Fifteen”: Avoiding Weight Loss in College

For those unfamiliar with the term, “Freshman Fifteen” is an arguably body-shaming phrase used to describe the apparent weight-gain that freshmen experience upon arriving at college. While everyone loves to caution against the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen,” I’ve found that I (and many friends around me) suffered the opposite issue, and struggled immensely to counter weight loss during the first semester of college.

Whether your parents consistently prepared nutritious meals and never let you leave for school without a solid six snacks, or you mostly managed for yourself, it’s not easy to single-handedly master the art of eating properly once you’re on your own. That being said, staying healthy should be one of a student’s top priorities. If you, too, lean towards weight loss rather than weight gain, here are some tips to help keep you on track:  

The Jigsaw Meal

If you’re picky, have certain dietary restrictions, or are just getting sick of the same fries and burger, it can be difficult to find a balanced meal in the feeding troughs —  uh, I mean, dining halls. The key is to grab whatever looks good and, most importantly, not confine yourself to one dish. If you start out with one thing and decide you don’t like it, try something new. Though it may not be the most normal way to eat, making sure you eat a complete meal (no matter how random the pairing of dishes is) is crucial to maintaining a healthy metabolism and energy throughout the day.

Instant, Instant, Instant!

Investing in a hot water boiler is a must (the AmazonBasics Stainless Steel Electric Kettle is a great option at only twenty dollars!). Though admittedly, upon heating up, it makes a sound in the morning that causes my sleeping roommate to think she’s waking up to an impending explosion, the kettle is perfect for making oatmeal if you don’t feel like making the frigid trek out to a dining hall or food cart for breakfast. You can also use it to cook other things, such as ready-made Mac n’ Cheese or Ramen; that way, you don’t go hungry even if you decide to stay in. As a side note, the hot water is also perfect for pouring down your dorm sink if you were to, ahem, barf in it for some reason late one night.

Mix it Up

Keep a list of places you ate at that you enjoyed (or at least tolerated). It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and feel like you’ve exhausted all of your options. To avoid getting in this mindset, keep tabs on the various options as you discover them. That way, you won’t feel like you’re eating the same meal every day and will be able to enjoy a wider variety of food. Houston Hall sushi bowls every day? Forget it. Eating it once a week, however, is way more reasonable. Balancing food trucks, dining halls, cafes, and restaurants is also important in keeping your meals exciting.

Monitoring Mental Health

Though they might not seem obviously related, stress can work itself into your eating habits in more ways than one: while some people overeat, others may find it difficult to eat altogether. If you find that your appetite drops during midterm season or when you’re fighting with your bestie, make sure that you’re taking care of your mental health as well as your physical health. Talking to a trusted friend, finding ways to relax (such as taking a walk or listening to music), or making an appointment at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) are all ways to ensure that you’re feeling good both inside and out.

When in Doubt, Uber Eats...In Moderation

Yes, it may not be financially feasible to maintain a steady Uber Eats habit, but don’t be afraid to whip out this trusty save every once in a while. There will inevitably be times when you find that you’ve worked late into the night without stopping to grab a bite to eat. At this point, not only are all the dining halls closed, but it’s too late to walk around alone in search of a decent meal. So...Uber Eats to the rescue! Apps such as Caviar, GrubHub, Uber Eats, and more provide an easy alternative to going out as they have a wide range of options in both cuisine and price.

As with any new adjustment, patience is essential. With time, you will strike the right balance that allows you to maintain a healthy, happy body and mindset.