The 'Freshman 15' Means More Than Weight Gain
The stresses of Freshman year can make students turn to food for comfort.
Emotional Eating continued...
So how can you keep this situational overeating in check?
Get in a regular pattern of eating, Kimball suggests. "Eat
breakfast, lunch, and dinner," she says. "Don't skip meals, and keep a
healthy, satisfying snack on hand [such as] peanut butter, cheese, or fruit to
help with cravings."
Eat things you enjoy, but start to exert some choice, she says.
"Don't let situations force you to eat when you're not hungry. And be
particularly wary of the kind of late-night pizza and junk food binges that are
so common to college life."
See what options you have for eating on campus and try to put
together a healthy food plan that uses what you have around you that is easy
and convenient, she suggests.
Avoid alcohol, Kimball says. "Binge drinking is a big
problem, and kids need to set their own limits and boundaries. Alcohol can be a
huge factor in Freshman weight gain."
Also, don't stop exercising. "Many kids who were active in
sports programs in high school stop exercising altogether. That's
terrible," Holland tells WebMD. "Most schools have some kind of student
sports center, and it is vital to stay out of the habit of driving across
campus to go to class that so many student fall into."
The flip side of this weight gain is disordered eating,
especially excessive exercise, anorexia, and bulimia. It's a kind of Freshman
15 in reverse, only more serious.
"I see this disordered eating in people on campuses as they
try to prevent the Freshman 15 weight gain," says Kimball. "We see
overexercise, bingeing and purging, and anorexia. The worry over weight gain
actually triggers an eating disorder."
She says that for young women, especially those who end up in a
living situation with other women who have similar concerns, such as sorority
houses, eating disorders can quickly snowball. She adds that the form the
eating disorder takes depends on the person and the underlying psychological
stresses at work.
"Some kids will rapidly lose 20 pounds and are exercising
six hours a day or eating 1,200 calories a day," Kimball said. "Parents
and friends are freaking out and don't know what to do. A certain number of
these kids will self-correct the problem over a year or two, but a significant
number will need some kind of counseling."