Now that the school year is well underway, college students everywhere are establishing new routines and developing habits, both good and bad.
Heading away from home is exciting, but it makes the challenge to stay healthy more difficult. Not having mom's cooking, regular mealtimes and access to food can be much more of an issue. Access to fast food and the temptation to skip breakfast for more sleep are two of the more common negative influences on college students and their eating habits.
The "Freshman 15" is always a topic of interest with teenagers and students in their 20s, and it's common to hear that gaining 15 pounds in college turns into 20 pounds, then 30, 40 pounds and so on into adulthood.
So how do you avoid it? Regardless of your age, you can adopt these habits and changes to avoid or reverse your “Freshman 15:”
This helps you avoid binges that are related to hormonal swings later in the day. It also helps you have more control over your energy.
Jill Koegel is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Omaha. She blogs every Wednesday. Read more from Jill.
Stock your kitchen area with healthy foods, to make quick meals and to-go snacks.
This will help you avoid eating out! Keep quick and easy snacks in your dorm such as frozen edamame, cottage cheese, salmon or tuna in cans and pouches, and milk or a milk substitute. To-go snacks could include light popcorn, raw veggies, low-fat string cheese, whole fruit, and one-ounce servings of nuts like almonds or pistachios.
Eat out at restaurants only when it's absolutely necessary.
Only eat out at when there is no other option, and when there won't be another option within the next few hours.
Avoid drinking alcohol.
That's right, it's easier just to avoid it. If you say you are going to limit drinking, that means you will not avoid the temptation. When you are having a drink or two, it can easily lead to more, and be much harder to stop.
Limit eating straight out of bags, cans and boxes, unless they are foods that have whole ingredients.
That doesn't mean NOTHING pre-packaged. It just means don't eat as many processed foods. Whole wheat bread comes in a bag, canned seafood is in a can and whole grain cereals are in boxes. Those things are fine. It is the chips, cookies, crackers, soda and sweetened cereals that don't do much for you except potentially cause overeating.
I can't emphasize the importance of this enough. It isn't only because of water's ability to help the fat burning process, or it's ability to satisfy and fill your stomach. Water helps take care of the morning “fog” and afternoon sleepiness. It helps keep you focused and clear, and in college, your grades depend on it!
Have a regular sleep schedule.
This will help you make better food choices, and will keep you from overeating. (Who thinks about snacking when they are asleep?)