A commonly held myth on college campuses is that freshmen suddenly gain 15 pounds, largely due to inactivity and heaping servings of dorm food. However, research tells a different story. A 2011 study in the journal "Social Science Quarterly" found that regardless of whether students live on or off campus, freshmen typically gain no more than 3.5 pounds. The study further revealed that 25 percent of freshmen actually lose weight. Mindful eating, nutritious food and exercise can help you stay healthy and maintain a normal weight as you adjust to college life.
Watch Your Calorie Intake
Maintaining your current weight is a matter of balancing calories consumed and calories expended. Excess calories are stored as fat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people drop weight by dieting and keep weight off through ongoing physical activity. You can prevent weight gain by monitoring your calorie intake and exercising several times a week.
Eat Nutritious Foods
Packing on the pounds is not inevitable during your first year of college. Most school cafeterias offer healthy alternatives to pizza and fried food. Avoid pop and coffee drinks with high-fat or sugar content. Eat fruits and vegetables each day with meals and when snacking.
Avoid Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is another leading culprit of weight gain in the freshman year, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Instead of turning to comfort food when homesick, anxious or bored, try talking to friends, working out or listening to music. You can also manage weight and relieve stress by participating in activities, such as intramural sports, yoga, biking or walking rather than driving.
- Social Science Quarterly: The Freshman 15: A Critical Time for Obesity Intervention or Media Myth?; Zagorsky and Smith
- Research Communications: The "Freshmen 15" Is Just a Myth, Nationwide Study Reveals
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Eight Ways to Beat the Freshman 15
- Fox News: 'Freshman 15' May Be Oversold, Analysis Says
- Journal of American College Health: The Freshman 15: Is it Real?; Mihalopoulos et. al.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Balancing Calories
- Photo Credit Erik Reis/iStock/Getty Images
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