You might have heard of the “Freshman 15” syndrome. Most people are known to experience it during the first year of their college. Are you prepared for it?
What is the “Freshman 15” Syndrome?
Most people are observed to gain about fifteen pounds of weight during the first year of their college education owing to their eating habits. It may occur due to the sudden exposure to buffet-styled meals or the personal choice of trying out different junk and fattening cuisines. Nevertheless, the freshman 15 is one of the most dreaded aspects of getting into college.
Some people may experience an advanced version of “Freshman 15” – characterized by gaining more than fifteen pounds of weight. At this stage, the need to employ an effective remedy is highly stressed. On the other hand, those experiencing the lower side of this syndrome – gaining less than fifteen pounds of weight – are at a risk to progress to the advanced level unless an effective counter strategy is employed!
Why “Freshman 15”?
Different colleges have different meal options. Some may offer buffet-styled meals with multiple choices and virtually an endless reserve of food. This promotes binge eating on a frequent basis. You may overeat while making an attempt to try all delicacies – the combined effect of which is seen as fifteen pounds at the end of the year!
Another reason for this weight gain could be the nonexistence of a personal kitchen and/or caretaker. Since you cannot prepare your own food, you are left with no option but to depend on foods prepared by restaurants and/or other food outlets. The foods produced at such places are more often junk containing an alarmingly high amount of unnecessary fats and devoid of other important nutrients. Consequently, when you consume such foods, you tend to end up with fifteen additional pounds of weight you never volunteered for!
Battling the “Freshman 15” Syndrome!
There are a number of ways you can keep your diet under control and ensure you are getting the right foods in the right quantities. However, this usually requires you to make an additional effort. Unless you are willing to go out of your way in order to eat healthy, there is nothing in the world that can help you avoid the fifteen (or maybe twenty) pounds of additional weight!
Here are a few ideas to help you maintain your health while on campus.
- Analyze your food options critically: You need to bring out the detective in you and analyze everything that you consume. Evaluate whether it is good for your health or not before putting it in your mouth. Only then will you be able to avoid unhealthy options.
- Regularize your meal times: Make sure you consume a healthy breakfast before entering your classes. Also, keep a specific time for your lunch and dinner. This will help you in battling hunger and therefore bad food choices.
- Research: Conduct your own research on what is good for your health and what is not. If there is something falling in the shady area between health and illness, login to your computer and search about its nutritional value. You can do so for all foods that you consume. You will automatically find out which foods you should avoid and which ones contribute towards your health!
- Seek Help! Most colleges have nutrition centers and nutritional experts that can help you regulate your food intake. Do not hesitate to approach them if you find yourself indecisive about your food choices. With their effort and your own dedication, you will be able to get your life onto a nutritious track. So you can keep off the weight and enjoy a fulfilling tenure on campus!
Eating Healthy on a College Budget
Between your studies, work and social life, you have little time for illness as a college student. But, you also have a limited budget to work with. Below you’ll find tips to keep you full and fueled without breaking the bank.
Buy in bulk
You can often find dried fruits, nuts and grains in bulk at the grocery store. Stock up on nuts and dried fruit to have for snacks between classes and use grains such as oats, rice and buckwheat for breakfast or as sides to lunch and dinner meals. Some fresh fruits and vegetables are regularly sold in one pound bags. Apples, onions, carrots and potatoes add more flavor for less calories and less money.
Buy in season
When you’re purchasing produce, use an online resource such as eattheseasons.com to find out what’s in season near you. When items are in season, they are abundant, and this drives the price down. If you have a freezer, you can stock up on some of your favorite foods.
Use the freezer
You can store more than produce in the freezer. When you find meals you like, make more servings at once and freeze the extras. You can let them thaw out during the day and heat them up when you get home in the evening.
Drink more water
Juices and sodas are expensive and many of them are just sugar bombs. Drink more water and try flavoring it with fresh fruit like lemons and berries.
Pack in the protein
Protein can be more expensive than other items but it will often keep you fuller for longer. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and are more affordable than meat. Beans and dairy products like cheese and yogurt also provide protein at a lower cost.
Fill up on healthy fats
Did you know that healthy saturated fats actually benefit your brain? Foods like raw nuts, avocados, and coconut benefit your body by helping you absorb more nutrients and fueling your brain. They also help keep you full. Add them to meals or pack them as snacks.
Save with soup and stir fry
You can make a wide variety of soups and stir-frys without even following a recipe. All you need is broth, your favorite vegetables and some spices. Add beans, meats or quinoa to make it more filling and you have a simple and affordable meal. You can easily make several batches at once.
Make friends with grocery store employees
Speak with employees to learn when new shipments come in, when sales start and when items go on clearance. This is a great way to get meat for up to 50% off the original price. Many times, grocers will mark down meat on its freeze by date. You can go back to scoop it up that day and cook it that night or freeze for later.
Snacking between classes
If you are out on campus and only have vending machine options, look for roasted nuts, baked chips or crackers, instead of cookies and candy. A better option, however, is to plan ahead. If you have a meal plan, take an extra yogurt, a granola bar, or a piece of fruit before you leave for your first class. If you live off campus, pack snacks ahead of time. Trail mix, nuts, avocados, chopped veggies and fruits can all be eaten on the go.
Make it fun
Invite your friends over for a potluck rather than going out for dinner. Encourage each person to bring a homemade dish for everyone to share. Homemade doesn’t always mean healthy, but you’ll often find this to be a better and more affordable option than a big night out.
It’s easy to be tempted by late night cafes and cheap junk food, but a little extra work will go a long way in keeping you healthy. Be creative with your budget. Don’t be afraid to try new things and find the balance that works best for you.
Boost Academic Performance by Eating Healthy
Numerous studies have validated the claim that healthy eating boosts academic performance. Students who do not eat breakfast tend to have difficulty in memorizing and paying attention in class. A recent study in Canada followed 6000 students in Toronto schools and showed positive results. 70% said having breakfast boosted their energy levels while 61% exceeded provincial reading standards. Countless studies have also been conducted in the US which also further help in pointing that a well-balanced nutritional diet boosts academic performance and overall health of students in high school.
Mixed-Grain Diet and Cognitive Functioning
Mixed-grain diet has found out to improve cognitive performance in students. A study conducted in 2012 revealed less mental fatigue and higher level of protein in the brain, by eating mixed grains, indicating a healthy brain. Sugary sodas and a junky diet cause childhood obesity which decreases cognitive functioning.
Poor Nutrition and Lower Test Performance
Poor nutrition produces a stress hormone cortisol in excess. This hormone affects the brain and impairs learning, memorizing, paying attention and controlling impulse. Students who eat unhygienic, highly processed poor food have been found to score less on tests and exhibit behavior problems compared to well-nourished students.
A study conducted in 2011 found that drinking milk is associated with better performance. Sweetened beverages tend to impair alertness and understanding. In the study, students who ate regular breakfast scored higher on math tests compared to those who skip on their breakfasts. Other factors which help boost performance on tests include physical activity and eating healthy food.
Regular Breakfast Improves Memory
Regular breakfast no wonder provides with the required nutrition to function properly through the day. One study conducted by Gregory Phillips of college students showed that those who ate breakfast regularly passed their biology exam. It is also recommended to have a snack in between breakfast and lunch. Having a mid morning snack actually improves memory. Blueberries and yoghurt have been linked to improve memory in some studies. A hardboiled egg is also good to have in breakfast as it contains choline, a nutrient which has been found to improve memory in animal studies.
Proper Nutrition Helps Stay Alert
Inadequate nutrition, calories and junk food makes students feel lethargic and participate less in school activities. Eating proper, healthy and hygienic food prevents them from falling ill and helps them stay alert in school and focus on lectures and understand better. It helps the student to be more positive and show enthusiasm for a better learning.
Food Quality and Academic Performance
Spanish studies have found out that the quality of food students has also affected their performance academically. The study showed a direct relationship between food quality and academic performance. As food quality increased, students academic performance also increased. Certain mental processes such as comprehension, memory and concentrationwere affected more than others when food quality differed.
Physical Activity is also Important
Countless studies validate that eating healthy improves functioning of the brain. It helps the mental processes in understanding, interpreting, focusing and keeping alert in school thus, improving academic performance. Proper nutrition is like food to the brain and a balanced diet keeps students both active and prevents them from feeling tired.
Apart from maintaining a healthy diet, daily physical activities are necessary. Eating right is one part of the game, but if students take part in extracurricular activities and stay physically active and fit, studies have found them to perform better in classes. It improves attention and concentration in class. The oxygen which reaches the brain helps with better functioning and also prevents obesity in students.