How to Avoid Weight Gain and Stay Healthy at College

How to Avoid Weight Gain and Stay Healthy at College

beat_the_freshman_15Living in a small college town, it is extremely easy to note when school is back in session. The streets are lined with cars, more people are out and about on the street, and the average age of the town drops significantly. Although this week it has become clear that the 2015 school year has commenced, it doesn’t mean that work towards the “freshman 15” must also begin.

Here are six tips to stay healthy and lean while away at college:

1. Have the right tools. When shopping for cool rugs, new bathroom accessories, bed sets and other fun things to adorn your dorm room, consider purchasing a few things that can make healthy snacks and meals easily accessible. You might want to think about a mini refrigerator, microwave, toaster, and even a space-saving single-serve blender such as an easy-to-clean NutriBullet.

make_healthy_easy2. Make healthy choices easy. The next step is to get a list going for the grocery store so you can have some healthy favorites on hand. Keep a basket of apples, oranges, and/or bananas in plain sight to remind you to get your fruit fix. Buy easy-to-prepare dry goods such as oatmeal which can be made in the microwave or with some yogurt or milk for overnight oats ─ no cooking required ─ find out how to do it here on Kath Eats Real Food.

Granola, whole grain breakfast bars, nuts, cottage cheese and string cheese are all great options. Protein-packed Greek yogurt is also great for a simple snack or can be transformed into a parfait with some frozen berries for a satisfying morning meal (don’t skip breakfast!). 100% whole grain bread is always a great option for making sandwiches or toast with a schmear of almond butter for a late night snack.

3. Use on-campus dining options sensibly. Most college students have access to cafeterias on campus. Nowadays, many schools have improved their dining options and some have even focused on increasing the nutritional value of the food they offer, but it’s still easy to overeat with never-ending buffets, ice cream machines, and dessert trays lurking around every corner.

Remember to stick to one plate, make half of the plate fruit, vegetables and/or salad, one quarter grains (preferably whole!) and the other quarter lean protein such as grilled, baked, or broiled chicken, turkey or fish. Limit the calorie and fat dense fried foods and heavy sauces and dressing to keep your calories and your saturated fat under control. And don’t deny your sweet tooth if you’re really craving something, just don’t make a habit of it.

indulge_in_moderation4. Indulge in moderation. Part of being at college includes studying or staying out with friends until the wee hours of the morning. Naturally, you’ll get hungry and a late night pizza delivery can happen. Don’t feel you always have to miss out on this sort of thing, just learn to control the amount you are eating and how often you indulge. A slice of pizza isn’t going to make or break you, but eating (or drinking) an extra 300-500 calories multiple times a week can add up. It only takes 3,500 extra calories to gain a single pound.

5. Exercise your body, not just your mind. One of the most impressive things about universities these days are the recreation centers they offer. Often, being a full-time student automatically gives you access to the rec center, including pools, rock climbing walls, tracks, top-of-the-line equipment, and even specialized classes such as yoga or spin. Take advantage of that while you can and find your physical activity niche. In addition to staying physically active, it is also a great way to meet people.

6. Live the car-free dream. Another great opportunity during your college years is the ability to commute just about everywhere on your bike or by foot. It’s hard to turn down burning calories and promoting muscle on your way to class. 

How do you combat college weight gain? Share your tips for staying healthy while away at school in the comments.

If you are a college student looking for a job, get information about working with Great Harvest here.

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