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Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Expert Q&A: Avoiding the Freshman 15

An interview with Connie Diekman, MEd, RD
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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.

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