How to Avoid the 'Freshman 15': Tips from The Nutrition Twins

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Registered dietitians and members of the DayTimers' Panel of Experts, The Nutrition Twins, give tips to incoming college freshmen on how to keep a healthy lifestyle and avoid the 'Freshman 15.'

The start of college brings many exciting changes: new living space, new friends, new routines and lifestyle--which also means new eating habits. It's common for college students, especially freshmen, to gain the 'Freshman 15.' The new students no longer can rely on their parents to cook meals and put in a good word for healthy eating. They are now in charge of choosing and preparing their own meals; suddenly, pizza at 2 am becomes a routine snack. The Nutrition Twins, members of DayTimers' panel of experts, offer time-tested tips to help college students be prepared and organized to fight the 'Freshman 15'.

Make time for the gym. Often freshmen who were very active in high school sports, don't participate in sports at the college level. Suddenly they lose the active lifestyle--and calorie-burning ability--they once had. Most colleges offer at least one, if not numerous, gyms around campus that are free to students. Make gym time a priority and pencil it into your planner. Students can also take advantage of intramural sports activities or enjoy areas for walking or running that are available on most campuses.

Keep track of what you eat. Keeping track of food intake and eating times is one of the most important steps in weight management. Using a log, such as the DayTimers Fitness Organizer, will help keep students aware of what they are putting in their body. This awareness tool is often the deterrent needed to say no to those extra calories.

Get all the facts. Dorm food can often be one of the biggest problems. There is sure to be an abundance of snacks and fried foods right at your fingertips. However, there are healthy options available, as well. When first moving in, speak to the chef at the dining hall and ask for nutritional information for the regular dishes. Discuss healthy food options, and take advantage of salad and cereal bars. It may even be possible to arrange for a special diet or additional meal options.

Take snack breaks. It's easy to get in to the habit of mindless eating while studying. Chances are, if you sit down to read with a bag of chips, the bag will be empty by the time the study session is over. Instead, make a plan regarding snack breaks in the middle of studying. Instead of candy or chips, choose healthier snack options, such as light popcorn, fruit, or veggies.

Alcohol monitoring. Alcohol contains lots of hidden calories that are often stored as body fat. In fact, each alcoholic beverage has at least 150 calories and should be counted as one carb. Limiting alcohol consumption will help avoid unwanted pounds, and since less drinking means killing less brain cells, maybe it will even help increase test scores.

Utilize school programs. Students may not realize the wide variety of free programs offered by schools, such as meetings with nutritionists. Also, if there is room for elective courses, look into an aerobics course or healthy cooking class, and earn credits while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Have an accountability partner. To hold you accountable, befriend a person who has a similar goal of avoiding the 'Freshman 15'. Having someone to go to the gym and study with may be just the support you need to not only skip the late-night pizza, but to maintain your weight and reach your long-term health goals.

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Leesa Raab
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