By: Nicole at University Language On: September 16, 2009 In: On Campus, Student Life Comments: 0

Have you heard of the Freshman 15?

Often discussed among prospective college students, the Freshman 15 refers to the 15 pounds students supposedly gain in their first year of college in the US. Stories about the Freshman 15 have been circulating for decades, but it’s more than just a myth.

Researchers have found that new US college students do tend to gain weight during their first year, although it’s usually around 5 to 10 pounds.

You can easily prevent gaining the fabled Freshman 15 by remembering these 8 ways to stay healthy and happy:

1. Eat breakfast.

The first meal of the day not only gives you energy for those early morning classes, it also keeps you satisfied throughout the day, so you can forget the Freshman 15 and avoid binging on candy when you get hungry before lunchtime.

2. Be an adventurous eater.

Colleges often have the same food choices night after night, and it’s tempting to return to the hamburgers and ice cream all year long. But trying new things – especially the vegetarian offerings – will not only expand your culinary tastes, but also often provide healthier food alternatives to keep off the Freshman 15.

3. Choose your beverages carefully.

They don’t seem like food, but many beverages, especially soda, sport drinks and alcoholic beverages, are loaded with sugar and calories that can be an easy way toward the Freshman 15. Try to cut back, and remember to drink lots of water throughout the day! This will also help you from confusing hunger with thirst.

4. Watch the late-night snacks.

When you’re studying in the library or working on that term paper late at night, you might try to stay awake by chowing down. Especially with the early dining hours of many college cafeterias, your last meal can seem like ages ago when you’re up late.

When you need a late-night bite, remember the Freshman 15. Keep healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables in your room, rather than going on a midnight pizza run!

5. Try dining without a tray.

Many US schools have unlimited meal plans for freshmen, and cafeteria trays can hold many, many plates of college food. This all-you-can-eat lifestyle change in college is one of the primary causes of the Freshman 15.

Leave the tray behind and only take what you can carry. Eating without a tray is ecological – it saves gallons of dishwashing water – and gives you time to think before getting up for seconds.

6. Join an intramural sports team.

You can avoid the Freshman 15 in other ways than just by watching what you eat. Exercise helps prevent the Freshman 15 – and can be a lot of fun!

Sports at college aren’t only for varsity athletes. You can play on an intramural sports team with your friends, or join student-led running or hiking clubs.

What’s more, college gym memberships are usually included in the cost of tuition and sometimes have courses for academic credit, so you can avoid the Freshman 15 just by going to class!

7. Skip the shuttle.

Your college might offer free transportation to class, but the majority of campuses are small enough to walk or bike to where you need to go. Take a few extra minutes to enjoy exploring your campus on foot, and you’ll keep off the Freshman 15 at the same time!

8. Get some sleep.

You’ve heard it before, but getting a good night’s sleep really does keep you healthy – and can prevent the Freshman 15.

You’ll probably experience a lot of changes during your first year of college in the US – but your weight doesn’t have to be one of them! Avoiding the Freshman 15 can be as easy as trying new foods, walking to class, and taking time to relax and recharge for the next day!

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