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The Lore of the Freshman Fifteen

Posted October 19th, 2010 by mclaugke

While it’s true that college freshman gain some weight their first year, it is closer to 4 pounds rather than the “Freshman 15”.  And since this is based on an “average” many do not gain weight while some gain significantly more than 4 pounds.

So why do college freshman gain weight?  And what can be done to combat it?

College weight gain is often blamed on the food served in dining halls.  While eating too much in the dining halls can contribute to weight gain, the transition to college correlates with other changes in eating and exercise patterns that can lead to weight gain:

  • For many freshman, college marks the first time choosing their own meals.  Suddenly, the college freshman is able to eat whatever they want, when they want it and taste trumps health in their food selection.
  • For the student always on the go, snacking and late night eating can be a big source of extra calories.
  • Many students, especially those involved in sports in high school, may exercise less during their freshman year.
  • While many of college freshman are not involved in underage drinking at all, and the majority of students drink less than 1 drink/week, some students get involved in “partying” scene and drink in excess.  At 7 calories per gram, alcohol can be a significant source of extra (empty) calories.

The good news is, that there are strategies to improve overall wellness during your first year on a college campus:

  • In general, your body will provide you with cues of when to eat and when to stop.  So honor your hunger by eating nourishing foods that your body needs (and sometimes craves) and respect your feeling of fullness by stopping when you are comfortably full.
  • Understand your body’s nutritional needs.  Our online menus contain nutrition information for all of our current menu options, allowing you to make an informed decision about your meal choice.  Additionally, calorie information is posted on Calabaloos menu boards and all soup labels in the dining centers.
  • While snacking can be a great source of energy and can curb the appetite between meals , replacing snacks  for a meal can be an unsatisfying substitute for a “real meal”.  Taking time for a well balanced meal can give you a much needed break to refuel your body and soul.
  • Strive to make half of your plate fruit and veggie based and include plant based proteins like beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.  Add a an apple, orange or banana to your meal for only $.65 or small bowl of fruit or vegetables from the deli salad bars is for only $.95.These strategies can help fill you up and keep you running!
  • There are many healthy, fun activities and events on campus including games, sports and “Late Night” events at Dixon Recreation.  These can be a great way to exercise and socialize.
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