Avoiding the Freshman 15

The facts about staying healthy in college

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With loaded classwork and crazy schedules, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be confusing for students to figure out their first few weeks on campus, leaving them to potentially fall victim to the Freshman 15.

The dreaded Freshman 15 is a running tale that most students have heard all about. It is the notion that upon arriving to college, students gain weight.

Despite all the talk of the Freshman 15, many students don’t actually gain 15 pounds or any weight at all. According to a study done by the American College Health Association, on average, freshmen gain about 2.7 pounds. The study also showed that 15% of those who participated actually lost weight instead.

Gaining weight or losing weight isn’t necessarily what’s important, but maintaining healthy eating habits is, especially when you’re surrounded by food galore and trying to survive a surplus of new responsibilities.

The study also showed that freshmen students were 5.5 times more likely to gain weight in comparison to their peers.

Ferris registered dietitian and nutritionist Brenda Walton believes that the new found sense of independence freshmen experience can be a factor for students to make decisions that aren’t always the best for their health.

“They have no one telling them when and what to eat so they do as they please, often skipping the veggies and fruit,” Walton said.

Walton believes that, despite having a crazy schedule, staying healthy is possible.

“It’s certainly doable with good planning,” Walton said. “Each semester your schedule changes, but it’s important to plan time and sit down to eat three meals a day, go to the Student Rec Centre, use equipment in your residence hall if available, sign up for a fitness class or intramurals. Consider learning a new sport. Avoid late night meals or snacking on junk food.”

Overeating or late-night snacks can be a result of skipping meals, and with morning classes some students tend to skip break- fast, which can lead to a lack in energy and focus for students. Walton also said that sleeping plays a vital role in everyone’s health.

“Most need eight hours a night, which promotes healthy weight, increased energy, learning and processing information, overall improved mental and physical health,” Walton said. “Lack of sleep causes an increased appetite for excess carbohydrates.”

Walton said taking steps to stay accountable about health can be as simple as learning food choices on campus by looking at the online menus available at ferris.edu/dining, getting some friends together for workouts, using a Fitbit to track steps or even tracking what you eat with MyFitnessPal or another app.

If you need help with developing a healthy lifestyle or have any other concerns, students can contact Walton free of charge at nutrition@nullferris.edu or call 231- 591-3747.