If you are embarking on a new adventure called college for the first time I have some wisdom for you. Are you ready?
The Freshman 15 is…
Yes a lot of folks do gain weight when they head off to college, but is it college that causes the weight gain?
The food at your college is the same (or in my case better) nutritionally that you have been eating your whole life. What is different is that you have control of when, what, and how much you eat and sometimes people let that get the best of them. A lot of people grow up with their parents preparing their meals for them all of their lives until college and then they begin eating in dining halls or making microwave dinners in the middle of the night or eating big waffle cones of ice cream every night with friends or consuming hundreds of calories in alcohol (wait alcohol has calories! yup 7kcal per gram!)
My Freshman Year…
I was in no way a believer in the Freshman 15 going in. I had had an eating disorder and knew the likelihood of me allowing weight gain was well very unlikely. I didn’t gain weight and I still ate in the dining halls every night in the beginning before I got sick of the food. I still enjoyed ice cream in waffle cones on occasion. And I chose not to drink, not because of calories but because it was illegal and I wanted to wait until I was 21 (less than a month!). But that doesn’t mean I had total and complete food success my first year. I was exposed to new foods I would have never dared to try before. Enter big bread bowls, bakery bagels, waffle cones, real ice cream, cinnamon rolls, poptarts… The list goes on. And I began to lose control around food. Thankfully I came home for Thanksgiving just as this was happening and my mom had already planned to take me to a conference called intuitive eating at Sheppard Pratt before she even knew something was up. My mom was thankful she was led to sign me up for this when she saw me devour my entire quesadilla + hers my first night back home… The conference allowed me to see that after years of depriving myself and then another few in a rigid recovery, my mind was telling me I had to eat everything on my plate and that if I didn’t I was depriving myself. Crazy right? Well not for me. My parents had never had the rule that I had to finish everything on my plate (except during recovery) but I had that rule for some reason. After this conference and reading the book Intuitive Eating I slowly transformed my mindset into “everything in moderation.” Now, I still have “fear foods” but that doesn’t stop me from challenging my mind and eating them anyways. I also know now that there is no reason for me to explain my eating to anyone around me. So my friends are going out for ice cream and I don’t want it, but still want to hang out… I go, have fun, and don’t feel the need to explain my ice creamlessness. Point of this? My freshman year was the complete opposite of the Freshman 15. I became healthier in my relationship with food.
My Advice to Incoming Freshman
- Enjoy this experience for everything it is! This is a time to meet new friends, learn new information, and grow into the adult you will one day be.
- Don’t stress about food and weight gain. Did you stress about this when your mom was still preparing your meals? It is no different when the dining hall sets the table. Eat what you want of what you order. If you don’t finish it all put it in your fridge. I promise that as long as you label it, it should still be there when you get hungry again.
- Also, do you eat ice cream and late night snacks every night now? If not, chances are you shouldn’t want to in college. So don’t feel like you have to. Some people actually do eat like that and that is what their body is used to. Your body isn’t, and that means for you it is extra calories that your body doesn’t know how to use.
- Don’t indulge. But do enjoy. The ice cream in a waffle cone or that delicious bread bowl from the dining hall won’t hurt you. It takes a lot more than that to gain 15 pounds.
- Finally, I know most college students are not me and are planning to go to parties and drink when they are there. Be smart about it! Don’t set your drink down. Do drink water. Don’t over do it, pace yourself with that red solo cup. Remember alcohol not only has calories, but it has more per gram than CARBS and Protein. Plus alcohol has the potential to do huge damage to your body. Binge drinking can really overwork your liver long term as well as your mind. You want to remember these years when you are 70 years old and sending your grandchildren off to college.
The college years beat high school by so many points it is not even funny! Have fun, make memories, and learn something both inside and outside of the classroom!
One more thing…
Let’s Go Hokies!