A recent study has shown that one in four freshmen gain 10 pounds in the first semester of college. Although this study focused on first year college students, I think that this weight gain can be seen across any college year.
The question is why are college students gaining such an alarming amount of weight ??
The weight gain is generally due to a decrease in physical activity, limited food choices in canteens, increased snacking and an increase in high calorie drinks such as lemonade, sugary coffees and alcohol.
College brings a hectic schedule to a person’s life, long hours with little breaks means that students are grabbing convenient packed food that can be eaten mid lecture. A hectic timetable also leaves less time for exercise with lectures and independent learning, students have to prioritize. I believe that exercise is a priority, it is important to take time to exercise for your physical and mental health.As well as the packed timetable, college is also filled with social events and social events usually equal FOOD! Most college canteens serve fast food. Fast food, while laden with calories, it is cheap so it appeals to the budget of a college student. Studying for long hours often leads to sugary snacking, blended with coffee drinks. These staples in a college student’s diet even though these items often pack more calories than a regular meal. For example a Mocha contains on average 340 calories while a Latte contains 200 calories.
How can weight gain be avoided I hear you ask, well here are some tips which have helped me to stay on track.·
Do not skip breakfast: Do not skip meals, especially breakfast. This is the first meal of the day and kick starts your metabolism, it also decreases over eating throughout the day.·
Watch portions: Pay attention to food choices and portion sizes in the canteen. Ask is there a half portion available.·
Make smart choices: Choose foods that haven’t been deep fried, go for whole grain instead of processed foods. High fibre foods help to manage weight by increasing the feeling of fullness with fewer calories and they also keep blood sugars steady to relieve frequent hunger.·
Pick lean protein: Choose lean cuts of meat like turkey, chicken, beef and fish. Soya beans and reduced fat cheese and butter will also help maintain a slim waistline·
Choose fat wisely: try to avoid unhealthy fats from fried foods and sweets. Choose healthier fats from nuts and seeds.·
Drink low calorie drinks: Try swapping regular lemonade for the diet alternatives, opt for unsweetened coffees or teas. Drink 1.5 litres of water a day.·
Exercise: It is important to do some sort of exercise five times a week, if that means going on a walk/jog joining the gym or a club then do it.
Armed with an informed game plan and some effort, any college student can avoid weight gain, but don’t forget to have some fun!