The infamous “Freshman 15”- the one expression Freshman hear about constantly. Let’s explore this “Freshman 15” phenomenon to get a clear understanding of what it is and how to avoid it.
For the uninitiated, “Freshman 15” is an expression that refers to the amount of weight gained during a student’s first year at college. The cause(s) of this weight gain are a combination of the following: an increase intake of alcohol, consumption of unhealthy food (due to fast food nearby on campus), higher stress levels and decreased amounts of exercise.
College will introduce you to “college meal plans” which come with dining halls/student unions that house a variety of fast food chains and restaurants in a single location. The college meal plans is a pre-paid account for your on-campus meals. Card gets swiped, then the value of the meal will be deducted from the account. As long as there is money in the account, a meal can be purchased.
The student union or dining hall is essentially one giant cafeteria with an all-you-can-eat experience. This newfound freedom to feed certainly plays a part in creating unhealthily eating habits, which contributes to weight gain.
Increase in alcohol consumption also plays a contributing factor to weight gain. As students explore their independence, they will find themselves at social settings where alcohol is served and consumed (sometimes in excess quantities). The freedom / ability to drink alcohol at the student’s will, is, (forgive our pun) intoxicating.
Transitioning from high school to college is jarring. All of a sudden, you’re thrust into a world of classes, exams, and projects. These are new levels of stress that students are experiencing and a way to cope is to eat – excessively. Those late night study sessions quickly transition into nights full of junk food and energy drinks.
HOW TO AVOID
College is certainly an exciting time – with so many changes that can have a profound effect on you in a spiritual, emotional, and even physical manifestation. The best way to avoid “Freshman 15” (and this applies to everyone, really) is to find and maintain a balance, or a middle ground. Do you have to go on a diet? Nope. Maybe try limiting your intake of fast food. Do you have to be in a serious exercise regimen? No. Perhaps, instead of taking the bus to classes, try to ride a bike, or take the long walk there. Rather than falling prey to late night study cram sessions, plan your studying time in advance, according to your rubrics and and adhere to it. Too many times do we want to find the easy way out, but nothing worthwhile is ever that easy and usually, the best way out is through.