Adopt healthy habits, Make plenty of time to Exercise and enjoy yourself
If you are entering college you may revel in your new-found freedom. You can skip breakfast, stay up until 2 a.m. chatting with roommates while munching on chips, or take a third pass through the cafeteria line.
Unfortunately, many of the liberties you enjoy while on your own can contribute to unwanted weight gains says an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
To avoid first-year weight gain, you should be aware of the common diet traps of college life. Dont forget that eating a healthful diet will help you fell better, have more energy and maintain your normal weight.
The first step is to set a schedule that includes getting enough sleep and getting up in time to eat breakfast.
If you skip breakfast
and eat a vending machine donut you are getting a lot of
calories, but you are not satisfied, says Sandon. You are soon hungry and crashing, and eating more at lunch and dinner.
Next be aware of what you are consuming. Your parents probably took care of your food needs for your first 18 years. Now it is your job to know how many calories or how much fat is in that double latte you like so much.
If you start drinking coffee in college, says Sandon and you add 100 calories in sugar and cream to your coffee every day that adds up to 10 pounds a year, if everything else remains the same.
Maybe you arent used to having a desert option every night. Eat a 250-calorie desert daily, and you can easily put on 10 pounds in the first semester.
When you have an urge to finish a meal with a sweet, grab a piece of fruit from the cafeteria line, and stash an extra piece of fruit in your dorm room for late-night snacking.
You should also develop smart shopping habits, Sandon says. At home your parents bought the groceries. Now that you have discretionary funds, do not use it for pizza or ice cream. Carry less cash so you are less tempted too spend money on snacks, says Sandon. You may also have the option to cook for yourself if you live in a dorm with kitchen facilities. By shopping and cooking you do not have to succumb to high-fat, high-calorie food from vending machines or the cafeteria. You can make a pizza with less cheese and more vegetables, or prepare a vegetable stir-fry.
To make sure you are prepared, Danae Campbell suggests keeping your cupboard well stocked with staples such as whole wheat pasta, couscous and brown rice.
You can grind out a lot of meals using these ingredients as a base, says Campbell a food writer in Glendora, California, co-author of a college collection of easy recipes for college students.
Shop for staples every two weeks, and stay well supplied so youre not stuck without food when its finals time and you cant shop, she says
Campbell also suggests cooking such extras as whole roast chicken so you have enough food for several meals.
In addition to adopting healthy eating habits, make sure your college lifestyle allows you plenty of time to exercise and enjoy yourself. Join a team so you have a designated time for activity, or take a one-credit physical education course. Dont overwhelm yourself with a heavy course load, she advises.
And if you do gain a few pounds, dont be too hard on yourself. The weight gain rarely continues to the sophomore year. After the first year, students are more likely to become cognizant of what theyre doing and develop better food habits.
Bev Bennett is co-author of The Dictionary of Healthful Food Terms (Barrons, 1997). Her column, Slim Chances, appears Mondays in the Health & Fitness section.