It is now that time of the year once more. Going back to school means going back to the cafeteria, which means eating out of stress. What do you even tell? Understand me; I think this time of year is lovely. 

We can indulge in pumpkin spice lattes, eat pie with copious amounts of whipped cream, and the weather gets cooler, prompting me to hibernate indoors while watching movies and snacking on chips. Do you see where I'm going with this?

This review research from BMC Obesity looked at 22 recent studies and concluded that 61 percent of students gained weight during their first year. This confirms the existence of the so-called "freshman 15." They did not all put on 15 pounds, but the average was 7.5 pounds, which is still a considerable weight increase.

This is not intended to be a pessimistic outlook, nor does it have to be the case! The dreaded "freshman 15" can be easily avoided by following any one of these seven simple strategies.

1. To avoid the so called "college weight gain," eat meals regularly.

This makes no sense, given that we are all aware that food contains calories and that consuming more calories than one needs leads to typical weight gain.

But maintaining a consistent eating habits or pattern will keep insane hunger rages at bay. You know that feeling when you're so hungry that you eat everything you see?

Studies have shown that eating at set intervals throughout the day reduces the likelihood of overeating and excessive snacking. Additionally, it lowers hormones in your body that are associated with appetite. 

People tend to make up for the calories they didn't consume during the skipped meal with the subsequent dinner. You'll surely gain weight and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease because the calories you consumed tend to have a lower nutrient density. Not only do they end up eating more calories, but the calories that are eventually consumed tend to have a lower nutrient density.

Snacking can also help alleviate some of the symptoms of hunger. Put some yogurt with granola in your bag and an apple, and you'll be good to go!

At this point, you might be wondering, "But what about intermittent fasting? I have been told that there are several advantages to doing so, and that is skipping meals! In the past few years, a practice known as "intermittent fasting" has gained a lot of popularity. In this method, you limit your eating to a specific time frame each day. 

You can find additional information about it in a blog article written by the Harvard Medical School. Even though you limit the amount of time you spend eating to between 8 and 10 hours, you maintain a consistent eating schedule. 

Even though avoiding the freshman weight gain by following this strategy would seem like a good idea, I won't discuss it in this piece because I don't have any personal experience with it. If you have tried intermittent fasting, please share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments section below!

In conclusion, it is essential not to miss meals and eat at consistent intervals throughout the day. It is a simple method that makes it possible to avoid being hungry and the freshman 15 weight gain. Win-Win!

2. Practice portion control. 

If you do not want to gain weight, you need to practice proper portion control. It may be challenging at first, particularly if you were never really encouraged to participate in the preparation of meals when you still lived at home. This can be difficult as well because many dining halls offer all-you-can-eat options. This should be considered a perk, but every dining hall I have been in seemed to have a fantastic variety of french fries.

But have no fear! You don't need to keep track of every calorie you consume. I gave it a shot, and the results drove me bonkers. You can make an educated prediction by employing portion control and the proportions of the plate.

Plate portioning

One strategy for accomplishing this goal is to load up at least half of your plate with vegetables.

This does not mean that you have to suffer through half a dish of slimy peas or soggy brussels sprouts. Find a veggie you like! I love steamed broccoli. But keep in mind that there are many different kinds of vegetables. You could eat carrot sticks, a salad, or a bowl of soup for lunch. The entire world is your oyster mushroom ( I'm sorry, it was a poor joke).

In addition, if the vegetable selection in your dining hall is subpar, talk to the manager about the possibility of adding XYZ to the menu on a rotating basis and suggest that they do so. In the past, my dining hall had both a suggestion board and a student food council to assist in menu planning. They are there to make sure that you enjoy your meals:)

The hand-portioning method

The hand-portioning approach is another fantastic strategy for warding off the freshman 15 (Precision Nutrition has a beautiful infographic on the topic). The following is a summary:

Separate each meal into the following four components:

  • Proteins
  • Veggies
  • Carbohydrates
  • Good Fats and Oils

When determining how much of each component should go into one serving, you can use a portion of your hand as a guide. It is recommended that girls begin their supplement consumption with one serving of each component, while males begin with two servings of each ingredient.

The size of your hand should be considered one serving of protein. This might be fish, chicken, tofu, steak, beyond meat, beans, eggs, or other things.

One serving of vegetables is approximately the size of your closed fist. Cucumbers, mushrooms, green beans, peas, spinach, kale, peppers, and other vegetables could fall under this category. Make it fun!

One serving of carbohydrates can be held in the palm of your cupped hand. Potatoes, rice, bread, fruit, and other foods might fall into this category. If you want to feel satisfied for a more extended time, opt for complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.

One serving of healthy fats or oils should be about the size of your thumb. This includes butters, nut butters, oils, seeds, and nut products.

This approach is one of my favorites since it is not only simple but also very adaptable. Still hungry? Add another cupped handful of carbohydrates or another fistful of vegetables... There is an infinite number of choices!

But what about food that is a mixture? I adore a chile or lasagna from time to time! You have no reason to be anxious! Eat a portion around the size of your hand, or make an educated guess and supplement it with a serving of vegetables. The single most important thing is to take pleasure in the food you consume, provided that you do so in reasonable quantities.

3. Stay hydrated.

The other day, my acupuncturist inquired about the amount of water I consume daily. I was utterly unprepared for the blow of guilt that came out of nowhere and hit me in the stomach. How can she put me in such a public light? I am well-known for not drinking enough water, and I am aware that I am not the only one who does this. However, it turns out that doing so is a reasonably simple strategy to help prevent gaining the freshman 15!

Numerous studies have found that reducing caloric intake by drinking water alone can significantly weight loss. This analysis published in Frontiers in Nutrition looked at many studies and concluded that staying hydrated could help you lose weight in two different ways.

  • It brings about a reduction in the total amount of food consumed.
  • It speeds up the lipolysis process (breakdown of fats)

If I drink around two liters of water per day, equivalent to six to eight glasses, can I reduce the amount of food I eat and increase the amount of fat I break down? Sign me up!!!

I have started keeping a water bottle with me at all times, so if you have any suggestions on how I can increase the amount of water I drink, please share them in the comments section below. We bid farewell to the freshman 15 and welcome hydration!

4. If you want to keep a healthy weight during college, pay attention to what you drink.

I am fully aware of this. I just told you, "Drink! It's excellent! You can lose weight! For the record, we were talking about some good old-fashioned water. We are talking about everything else in this area, including juice, soda, Gatorade, alcohol, and other excellent stuff.

A glass of orange juice can include around 120 calories, which is a significant amount given that it will not truly assist you in feeling full. On the other hand, this is nothing compared to some other drinks. 

An 8-ounce glass of long island ice tea can have approximately 500 calories. In a 5-ounce glass, you may expect to consume about 280 calories if you drink a pina colada or daiquiri. Craft beer is one of my favorites, but a glass that's 12 ounces might have anywhere from 130 to 170 calories.

It is essential to remember that some mixers, like pop, also have high-calorie content. There are around 140 calories in a can of Coke, but there are approximately 156 calories in a can of 7up. Even tonic water has about 125 calories per can on average.

Now, I'm not trying to discourage you from drinking at all. I just want to give you some information on why consuming alcohol in moderation might be a smart thing to keep in mind if you are trying to lose weight or if you want to avoid acquiring the freshman 15 during your time in college.

There are several beverages available that are lower in calories. Vodka soda is an old favorite and only has approximately 105 calories, while a glass of dry red wine (five ounces) is only about the same (just under 100 calories). However, a can of Bubly water has no calories whatsoever. I was just putting that out there (plus, they have beautiful flavors!).

Therefore, if you genuinely want to reduce your weight, you should probably cut back on the amount of alcohol you consume. For example, you may have just one drink instead of two, or you could offer to be the sober friend or designated driver at the next party you attend.

5. Seek inner peace.

Eating while you're stressed is an easy way to add on the pounds. Find inner peace. So get ahead of the game and come up with a plan. For exam time, it's going to be here sooner than you think. 

You'll also have to deal with schoolwork and friends' turmoil, and you may be feeling homesick. College is full of first experiences that can be a lot of fun, but they can also cause a lot of worries. Don't worry; I'm here to help!

Comfort foods like gooey chocolate chip cookies and creamy mac and cheese generally provide immediate fulfillment when eaten in large quantities quickly and frequently. While it is naive to assume that we will never reach for those things when we are under stress (because, hmm, hello tasty! ), it would be nice to develop better stress-coping practices. Here are two of my personal favorites!

Meditation and yoga

Take a few minutes to relax your body and mind with yoga or meditation. The Aura app has a fantastic collection of free meditation videos, and Goodful is an excellent meditation YouTube channel to get you started. Meditating regularly has a calming effect on me that lasts throughout the day.

Yoga is also an excellent option. Yang lessons are my go-to when I'm feeling stressed out. Yin yoga is a more leisurely kind of yoga. To get into your connective tissues, you hold the poses for an extended time. 

Afterward, I always feel revitalized and more in sync with my body. A few of my favorite yin practices are this one from Yoga With Kassandra and this one by Jessica Richburg, two of my favorite teachers.

Make use of your peer group for support

If you're going through a rough patch, it's crucial to tell others about it. People are eager to lend a hand and show their support for your endeavors. In other words, anyone you know. Trust me; if you're afraid to ask for help, it's scarier to feel isolated and burdened by the world's weight on your shoulders.

Professors can help you by listening and giving advice, and in some cases, they can even make accommodations on assignments or tests. They are there to be your ally.

People go through difficulties, and you may help each other by sharing your struggles. To be honest, it takes a village to go through college and many kleenexes.

Numerous institutions offer excellent counseling services, and there are many options available online (like Better Help) or over the phone.

6. Avoid the freshman 15 by sleeping more.

Yes, it's time to get some shut-eye! It's as simple as lying down and closing your eyes.

As a result, one in three Americans does not get the recommended seven or more hours of sleep each night. One possible reason some students find it difficult to avoid the Freshman 15 is a lack of sleep.

Many college students lack sleep. However, when you don't get enough sleep, your body produces one of the hunger hormones, ghrelin, which sends hunger signals to your brain. A second hormone, leptin, linked to appetite and fullness, is also decreased by sleep deprivation (feeling full). PLOS Medicine has more information on this study.

When you don't get enough sleep, your body sends more "I'm hungry" messages to your brain than "I'm full" signals, which leads to more frequent hunger pangs.

Sleep deprivation can also raise your cortisol levels, leading to an increase in stress. You know what happens when you overeat while you're stressed.

Now, sharing a bed with many strangers in a dorm or a house can be a pain. College students have varying ideas about "silence." Earplugs and a sleep mask have saved my life, and they will do the same for you. You can also use the sleep mask set from Saje with an essential oil combination that contains valerian to help you sleep.

Keep your hormones and stress levels in line by getting at least seven hours of sleep. Isn't it wonderful to be rested? Who else is a fan of a good night's sleep?

7. Work up a sweat!

You're physical health is very important! Even a small amount of activity will help you prevent gaining the freshman fifteen and stay in tip top shape.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that all people get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. Workouts can range from power yoga to jogging, strength training, swimming, and other water sports.

Find what works for you! Working out in the gym isn't for everyone; I, for one, find it scary.

Need some workout inspiration? Check out these fantastic free resources if you're ready to begin your fitness adventure.

  • If you want to work on your abs, Chloe Ting's programs are perfect for you (some of her titles are a bit clickbaity, such as "Do this every day to acquire abs"). There are also some fantastic healthy recipes on her website!
  • Mad Fit provides some excellent home work-outs as well as dance workouts which are fun:)
  • Grow With Jo is a terrific place to explore for fun home workouts and dancing workouts.
  • Boho Beautiful is fantastic for intermediate yogis, and many of their films are shot in beautiful locales.
  • Beginner yogis should check out Yoga With Adrienne; Adrienne is excellent!

If none of those are speaking to you, walking is a terrific way to get your heart rate up mainly if you are walking up an incline and especially if you are walking up an upgrade.

Make sure you aren't making yourself do something you don't enjoy just because you have heard it is "good for you." You can have joy working out! Keep a healthy lifestyle!



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