The fact that most college students gain a bit of weight between the day they arrive on campus and the day they walk for graduation shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, the term “freshman fifteen” was coined for a reason. It’s become incredibly common for the fun and wide ranging experiences of college to also include packing on a bit of extra heft. Walking around over your most healthy weight is never a good thing, and although the impact on your long term wellness won’t be as large during your late teens/early twenties, you’re creating a precedent that may lead to issues down the line. If you can’t lose the weight you gained and carry it into your thirties, it’s going to become harder and harder to regain your previous form. So try to avoid these most common causes of weight gain among college students.
First of all, it’s awfully easy to overdo it at the school cafeteria. Most college students head off to begin their studies with some sort of campus meal plan. This is a great option for most people, as you won’t be able to balance shopping and cooking with all the work of getting used to your new college life. The problem is, the cafeteria offers far more choice than what your parents make at home. Every meal will have healthy options, but there will always be heavier choices, and dessert available at all hours. It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed by this bounty and eat far more than you are used to. Try to eat like you did back home, ignoring the endless dessert choices except for special occasions. And always consider the food pyramid when making your choices for the most balanced meals.
Another reason most students gain weight at college is late night binge eating. Parties and the bar scene are a part of the college experience that will never go away. And there’s nothing wrong with cutting loose every once in a while, as long as you don’t drive, and act responsibly. But those late night parties all too often lead to late night fast food, and that will pack on the pounds fast. Try to keep some healthier snacks around your dorm room if you really get the munchies. It’s never a good idea to eat a thousand calorie meal at three in the morning and then fall right asleep.
Of course, you wouldn’t be up that late in the first place if it wasn’t for all the booze you were drinking. And that is a huge weight gainer. Alcohol is packed with empty calories, and binge drinking is a sad reality of college life. You can watch what you eat carefully all day, but if you follow that up with two six-packs of beer at the end of the night, it’s not going to make a difference. Consider lighter beers when you are going to drink, or alcohol that doesn’t have as many calories. Mix with diet sodas, or better yet, make sure you have at least a couple of nights a week that you abstain entirely.
Eating and drinking are only part of the equation when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. The other aspect is regular exercise, and that’s something else that all too often falls by the wayside in college. This is disappointing, because you might never have as many free resources to support regular exercise as you will at school. Check out the campus of Portland State University, or any major school for that matter, and you’ll find free gyms available to every student, as well as cardio classes you can take any day of the week. Many colleges have club sports teams as well, so you can get your exercise in while also being social. Don’t spend every night in your room playing video games, and walk to and from class whenever possible. If you make sure you’re getting at least thirty minutes of strenuous exercise every day, you should be able to avoid that dreaded college weight gain.