10 Simple Ways to Avoid the Freshman Fifteen

College.

A time where you meet some of your closest friends in life, have deep philosophical debates with your professors, and start the experience of living on your own. Your parents drop you off, you say goodbye, and it’s time to begin the rest of your life.

Except they don’t really tell you about the part where you now have to make decisions about what you want for every meal.

Introducing: the freshman fifteen. A rumor about the impending doom of all incoming first-year students as they face the new world of cafeteria food, late-night snacking, and their own personal mini-fridge. Suddenly one extra pound turns into two, and the next thing you know you are stretching out your skinny jeans.

But let me tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way! I’m here to tell you about some simple ways for you to avoid the unwanted weight gain that can be incorporated into your schedule for a healthier lifestyle!

  1. 1. Staying Hydrated

    This is probably the easiest change you can make, starting right now! Your body needs water to continue functioning properly and it's super important in processing calories. Studies have shown that drinking water helps “boost your metabolism, cleanse your body of waste, and acts an appetite supplement.” So instead of reaching for that sugary drink at lunch, I instead suggest drinking a glass of water. If you are having trouble tracking how much water you are supposed to drink in a day, I recommend apps such as Plant Nanny, My Water Balance, and Aqualert, or take part in the 30 Day Water Challenge on Instagram!

  2. 2. Drink Coffee Black

    As a new Seattlelite myself, I have to admit I have a bit of an obsession with coffee. Not only does it help wake you up in the morning, but it also plays a part in boosting your metabolism and curbing your appetite. However, once you start putting in all the extra cream and sugar, the calories start to pile on. Instead of ordering a Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte tomorrow, try getting a plain black coffee, and if it’s still not to your taste, you can add a dash of cinnamon to take away the bitterness! Or if you like something iced, I recommend the Sugar-Free Vanilla Iced Coffee, which saves you 75 extra calories and 20 G of sugar compared to a regular Iced Coffee.   

    Also, did I mention how much cheaper it is?

  3. 3. Reading Nutrition Labels

    This one takes a little bit more to get used to. It wasn’t until recently that I started doing this but reading the back of the box gives you so much information about what you are putting into your body. Food and drinks are much more than just calories; they tell you about the content’s serving size, sugar, sodium, fat, carbs, and many other vital parts of your daily intake. Learning about the importance of macros and what my body needs to perform at its best has been eye-opening to me, and I HIGHLY recommend reading this article to have a better grasp on the concept.

  4. 4. Keep Healthy Snacks in Your Dorm Room

    One of the newest things about being college is the freedom to eat what you want, whenever you want. It’s definitely a liberating feeling, but in the end, it could set you up for disaster when you are staying up late and all you have are potato chips and cookies in the room. By keeping healthy snacks in your dorm, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc., you’ll be less likely to binge on something that may make you feel worse in the long run. Plus, this should keep you away from overpriced cafeteria food and vending machines if you decide to bring them with you to snack on throughout the day.

  5. 5. Exercise!

    I get it. There’s only so much time in a day, and it doesn’t feel worth it to walk all the way to the gym. But really, making time to go work out does pay off. By being active, not only does it help control your weight and torch those calories, but it also works as a stress relief and can improve your mood. And if you really don’t feel like going to the gym, there’s always alternatives, such as joining a recreational sport, or just going for a 20-minute walk after a long study session. Just get your heart pumping, and your body will be thankful.

  6. 6. Planning Your Meals

    I love pizza. And ice-cream. Okay, I just love unhealthy food in general. And that’s okay! You don’t have to cut out every unhealthy in the world to have a good diet. You just have to eat them in moderation. For me, I try to plan out what I think I’m going to eat the night before, so I have a general idea of how many calories I’m having. So, if I’m really craving that pizza, I plan my day around that. I find that following the 80/20 rule has worked out really well for me and you can read more about that here.

    Also, I can’t stress this enough: DO NOT SKIP OUT ON MEALS. Yes, maybe you ate more than you should have, but don’t punish yourself. We all make mistakes, so just try your best the next day!

  7. 7. Be Careful of Cafeterias 

    The cafeteria can be a really scary place. There are so many high-calorie and oversized portions, with things that you think are healthy that turn out to be overpacked with carbs and fats (cough, which you can find from the nutrition label, cough). But almost all universities will provide you with healthy, nutrient-dense food if you are willing to look for it. It’s your first time deciding how much and what you want to eat, and there’s no one to be on your diet anymore. Also, once in a while, try taking advantage of your dorm’s kitchen. Lots of websites such as Tasty and AllRecipes have great, easy recipes to make, fit for college students with absolutely no cooking experience, such as myself.

  8. 8. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

    Fruits and vegetables are such good sources of all the vitamins and minerals you might need, including fiber, which works wonders for your tummy area. Every good meal is an equal balance of carbs, fats, and protein. One rule of thumb is to load up on veggies, making it take up about half the room on your plate, then make the other two halves your protein and starches. Of course, this is just a general idea that can be adjusted to whatever your dietary needs might be, but it’s an easy one to remember if you are just starting to learn about portioning!

  9. 9. Get Enough Sleep

    Being a college student is a lot of work. It seems that there’s a never-ending cycle of writing papers and studying for your midterms– and it always cuts into your sleeping time. This is problematic, as a continued lack of sleep can lead to serious weight gain. According to the Sargent College Clinic, a lack of sleep can lead to “an increase in the hunger promoting ghrelin and decrease in the hunger-suppressing hormone leptin.” Always remember that your health is more important than pulling an all-nighter. If you can, aim for 7.5-8 hours of sleep a night. You will wake up feeling refreshed, and ready to face the day ahead of you.

  10. 10. Even if There are Setbacks, Never Give Up!

    Losing weight doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a LIFESTYLE change of learning to eat clean whole foods while keeping your macros balanced and your calories under control. I promise, that if you listen to your body’s needs, it will love you back. Stay positive guys, I believe in you, and you totally got this! 😊 If you ever want any more weight loss advice, feel free to reach out!