The first semester of college is an amazing, terrifying time in a young adult’s life.
It’s also one that’s full of food.
If you live on a college campus, you cannot hide from the freshman year dining hall experience. Likewise, living with a roommate on a densely packed floor in a dorm means that you’ll be exposed to study session snacks, group dinners, care package cookies and (sorry moms) drunken pizza at 3 a.m.
While all of those experiences are what make college so memorable, they do lead to the dreaded "Freshman 15," so named because of the 15 (plus or minus a few) pounds freshmen tend to gain during their first year of college — thanks to changes in diet, exercise and metabolism.
While some weight gain is natural as teens age, gaining a significant amount of weight during a short period of time could be harmful to your health. Likewise, dwelling too much on what you consume could lead to disordered eating.
Before those "15" get out of control, check out our guide to avoiding 10 poor eating habits:
Consuming food or drinks when you’re stressed, studying, watching television or otherwise occupied is a sure way to pack on the pounds because you’re more likely to pay attention to cravings and less likely to control what you eat and how much of it you consume.
Eat slowly. This gives your stomach and brain enough time to communicate that you’re full and makes it less likely that you’ll overeat.
Don't skip meals! Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner keeps your metabolism working better than skipping meals. Plus, it keeps you from binging later.
Be smart about how and when you socialize — especially when it centers around food. If the group orders pizza, don’t skip it. Simply be mindful of what you consume and have a strategy. Pitch in for that pizza, but also order a salad, so that you’re more likely to control how many pieces you eat. Likewise, just because all of your girlfriends conclude dinner with soft-serve ice cream doesn’t mean that you have to participate every night. Pick and choose when to splurge.
Mix up your meals. The knee-jerk reaction is to head straight to the salad bar when trying to lose or maintain weight. Dressings, cheeses and croutons pack a lot of calories, sugar and fat. To avoid these hidden dangers, choose a mix of nutritious foods. Look for protein-rich foods, such as chicken or legumes in the hot line, and make sure that you’re consuming enough fruits and vegetables.