For many college students, living on campus seems like the perfect idea – no parents, no rules and an abundance amount of independence. With this new found freedom new challenges arise. According to Freshman15.com, many college freshmen are bound to gain approximately 15 pounds during their first semester. Certainly, the lack of exercise, late night eating, consuming unhealthy snacks and drinking an overwhelming amount of alcohol are just some of the reasons why freshman are likely to gain weight.
However, this problem does not just affect college freshman. In fact, gaining weight during your first year of college may have a subsequent effect on the next three years unless drastic measures are taken. Many college students find it hard to watch what they eat when countless options are made available to them.
With the obesity rate in the U.S. on the rise, more companies are releasing healthier alternatives to popular products. For instance, many companies are looking into whole wheat and fat-free substitutions. Though many colleges and universities haven’t made the adjustment just yet, TV personality and chef Rachael Ray and many others are speaking out.
“The reason I believe college students have a hard time staying healthy is because of the food offered in the cafeteria. A lot of the options are not healthy and the healthy options get boring after a while. The variety of foods offered to the students is a huge complaint. The cafeteria could do very simple things like offering whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta,” junior Alireza Vaziri said.
Furthermore, many nutritionists suggest balancing one’s diet with more fruits and vegetables or perhaps becoming vegetarian. Conversely from research, it’s evident that the vegetarian option at most college and universities are very limited. Therefore, to get to the bottom of the problem, one needs to simply watch what he or she eats.
- Eat Breakfast: Most college students tend to miss breakfast because they often over sleep or merely skip it. However, nutritionists say that skipping breakfast affects how much fat your body stores because it thinks you’re fasting. When you skip breakfast you’re likely to get hungry and end up grabbing unhealthy snacks. Perfect breakfast options are yogurt, milk, something with fiber like an apple or grains.
- Healthy Snacks: Instead of stocking up on cookies and chips, try keeping fruits and vegetables on hand. Both often become tough to keep for long period of time so it’s acceptable to buy canned fruits, but be sure that it they stored in 100 percent juice and not syrup. Canned corn, beans and other canned vegetables are great alternatives. Keeping soup in your dorm is a great idea. However, the soup in today’s market tends to be loaded with sodium and unnecessary fats, so try the light or fat-free options. Granola bars, protein bars, yogurt, instant oats and nuts are also great substitutes.
- Water: It is recommended that all adults drink at least eight cups of water a day. Many of us often turn to soda, coffee and other beverages and unconsciously skip water.
- Late Night Eating: Often you’re up late studying and may become hungry, so you grab a bag of chips or cookies and before you know it you have eaten everything and you end up falling asleep. Surprisingly, this is the number one reason why you’re more likely to gain weight because you’re not burning the energy from the snack you just consumed. If you absolutely have to snack late, try some of the healthy snack options that were previously listed.
- Sleep: It’s recommended that we all should have approximately 8 hours of sleep at night – no less, no more. Some researchers say that those who sleep less than 8 hours are likely to wake up feeling tired so they turn to unhealthy snacks to elevate their energy.
- Exercise: One of the most important steps to staying healthy is doing some form of physical activity for at least one hour each day.
Aside from following these guidelines, many nutritionists and chefs strongly suggest getting in the kitchen and preparing healthy meals. Most of us often think of cooking as a long and tedious task. Therefore, you can always start by changing the way you snack. “It is hard to cook a healthy meal, but it isn’t that hard to have a healthy snack since that can easily be carrots or an apple,” student Jose Francisco Medoza said.
1 Large McIntosh Apple, slices
1 – 2 tea sweetener
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ cup of oats, oaked in water for 5 minutes, then squeezed dry
Microwave or toast for 3 – 5 minutes keeping an eye not to burn the oats.
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
4 tablespoon oats
1/3 cup of fruits, your choice