Expert Q&A: Avoiding the Freshman 15
An interview with Connie Diekman, MEd, RD
Is there any way to avoid the freshman 15?
Eating snacks or mini-meals after every three or four hours can help avoid
bingeing. The challenge is really learning how to incorporate healthy eating
and exercise into a schedule that is very demanding. I remind students
that this is not too different from the life they will graduate into, so they
should learn now how to make it a part of what they do now.
How should a weight-conscious freshman navigate the vast dining hall?
As you go into the dining facility, take a look at what’s there. Don’t jump
immediately into the salad bar line. There may be healthier options such as
fresh vegetables or whole-grain pasta. Once you have made your decision, you
are in control. Think about how much cheese, meat, beans, nuts, or salad
dressing that you take. Choose more vegetables and less of those things. A
dinner plate should comprise two-thirds fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
This is a good way to build a healthy meal. Also, ask questions in the dining
facility such as ‘how is that prepared?’ or ‘can I get this without butter?’ If
a service-line person can’t help you, find out who can.
How does or can late-night pizza and alcohol fit in?
If you order pizza late-night, get a salad too so that you can control the
number of slices you eat. Participate with friends, don’t isolate; because
isolation leads to disordered eating. When you restrict what you eat during the
day to allow yourself to drink at night, alcohol affects you more quickly. When
alcohol has a rapid affect, it drops your blood sugar and triggers the need to
eat and alcohol also lowers your inhibitions. You can end up eating as many
calories -- if not more -- than you would have if you ate throughout the day
and still had a drink at night. Eat during the day if you are planning to
drink, so you don’t drink too much or eat too much.
Are any freshman immune to the freshman 15?
Weight gain is an individual issue. Our genetics determine how we gain,
where we gain, and when we gain. Most students find they have some ups and
downs with their weight while at college.