Freshman 15 College weight gain
Your college kid is probably stressed out and pressed for time. And eating healthy probably isn’t on the top of their priority list. Can you blame them? Your son or daughter may come home for break a few pounds heavier than you remember, but try not to gasp and point out how plump they’ve gotten. I’ve seen the damage that can have on a fragile freshman’s self-confidence firsthand.
Freshman 15 statistics
Though the “Freshman 15” is more like 5 to 7, it is followed by the “Sophomore 2 or 3,” say researchers1. This leans toward a pattern of gradual weight gain that could continue post-graduation. And that leads to serious health problems down the line.
I admit to gaining the “Underclassmen 10 or so,” as I refer to it. I liked to blame tempting cafeteria food and a packed schedule for my college weight gain, but I know my unhealthy eating habits were the true culprit. As soon as I changed them, I dropped the weight. I followed most of the 10 healthy eating tips for the busy college student (provided by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and saw an improvement in my energy levels and overall well-being—so consider sharing them with your college kid.
Here are some tips that helped me avoid freshman 15 weight gain:
Tip 1: Eat a good breakfast. Studies show that skipping breakfast detracts from scholastic achievement.
- If your child is in a rush every morning, suggest they stock their fridge with pre-made protein shakes for tasty nutrition on the run. And I always kept a few instant oatmeal cups in my dorm so I could nuke up breakfast before class.
Tip 2: Keep healthful snacks on hand so if hunger strikes during a late night study session, you won’t be tempted by vending machine candy, chips or ice cream.
- I often brought protein-packed granola bars, 100-calorie packs, apples, baby carrots and bananas with me to the library to get through intense cram sessions.
Tip 3: The dining hall salad bar can be either an asset or a detriment to your college diet depending on how you choose from it.
- I remember feeling a bit clueless in the dining hall my freshmen year, so hopefully this list of healthy and unhealthy dining options in the college cafeteria will help your child find their way to the nutritious stuff.
Keep in mind that it’s easier to gain weight than it is to lose it, so helping your child form healthy eating habits early in their college experience is the best thing you can do for them.