College is a stressful time for incoming freshman and this stress, when coupled with poor eating and sleeping habits can lead to weight gain. Read our tips on how to avoid the dreaded “Freshman 15”.

The stress of starting college, being away from home, and enjoying independence while at the same time feeling the pressures of a heavy workload, all of these factors figure into what is known as the Freshman 15. The Freshman Fifteen is not a myth, but neither is it a given that a student will gain 15 pounds during their first year of school.

While the number may not always be 15, a group of 60 Cornell University students participated in a correlational study to see if the Freshmen 15 was fact or myth. The study concluded that a significant weight gain was experienced during the first semester of college. The main reasons for this were overeating in dining halls and snacking on junk food. This doesn’t happen to everyone and it doesn’t have to happen to you. Here are some tips to avoid it:


Snack Smart

Students regularly snack on salty, sweet unhealthy foods. This eating may be triggered by emotion and stress. You don’t need to deprive yourself of snack foods, just be smart about it. Make sure to stock the right kinds of food in your dorm room. Fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, even popcorn is much healthier than candy bars and processed chips.


Alcohol Intake

Part of the college experience for students who are of legal drinking age involves over indulgence. This can be problematic. There are a lot of calories in a bottle of beer, but the cravings for junk food may increase after a night of consumption as well. Be smart. Practice moderation and eat a good meal before you start consuming alcoholic beverages.


Get Some Exercise

The health benefits of regular exercise are well documented. Working out not only helps keep the weight off, it is an excellent way to get rid of stress. Getting the right exercise helps control diet, sleep, mood — so many things are tied into this balance of mental and physical well-being. If you can’t get to the gym as much as you’d like, make sure you are at least walking to class. Skip the elevator and take the stairs too. Ride a bike around campus. Do whatever you can to ensure you’re getting some cardio into your daily routine. Every area of your life, including academics, will benefit.


Beware of the Dining Hall

If the dining hall is your only source of nourishment, beware! Portion control is going to have to be your friend. While there are many healthy food options available in school cafeterias, there are also a lot of high fat, high calories foods. Limit the amount you eat, get your fresh fruit and vegetables in the form of salads (dressing on the side), smoothies and whole fruit. No matter how good those salty French fries may smell, limit the amount of fried foods you consume.


Don’t Skip Meals

Skipping meals may work as a short-term weight loss gimmick but it is very unhealthy. When you deprive your body of what it needs to function, it’s going to respond with cravings for the worst types of high calorie foods. If your schedule doesn’t allow enough time for three sit down meals per day, then eat healthy snacks or smaller meals throughout the day. Make sure to eat a good breakfast too.


College is an exciting time but for many students the pressures of school and dorm life make it difficult to treat their bodies right. Being mindful and incorporating good habits of diet and exercise will lead to a more productive, happier, healthier college experience that makes a myth out of the dreaded Freshman 15.