Avoid the Weight Gain

A few weeks ago, Lizzie, a blog reader, reached out to me after discovering that I live in the Baltimore area. She goes to school at a nearby university and was looking for advice on staying healthy as a college freshman. Though I now live at home, I did live on campus during my first semester at Towson University.

Because I lived in a building that was not owned by the university, I was not required to have a meal plan. I fully recognize that not having a meal plan is nearly impossible for the majority of college freshman; it was only feasible for me because my parents’ house is ten minutes away from campus. I often went home for dinner and cooked meals on Sunday to eat during the week. If I did eat on campus, I sought out healthy options, which are available on every campus. I could easily get grilled chicken with a side salad or a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread.

Limited access to a kitchen made it difficult at times, but wholesome meals came together with a little creativity. Between pledging a sorority, being a pre-pharmacy major, and having mostly 8am classes, I barely had time to get to a dining hall, anyway.

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For breakfast—while simultaneously putting on mascara and furiously studying biology notecards—I would eat a bowl of cereal in under 30 seconds. I opted for a cereal with a high fiber content, usually one of the Kashi variety, and paired it with almond milk.

Luckily for me, my roommate was kind enough to let me have a larger share of the mini fridge in our dorm room. Keeping it stocked with healthy options was essential. You could typically find fresh produce, yogurt, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and hummus in my fridge, and bags of frozen veggies and pre-cooked meals in my freezer.

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With a close proximity to Trader Joe’s, I often walked there when I needed to replenish my stock. I also had a large air-tight container in my room where I kept dry food. I bought it in bulk so that I wouldn’t need to replace those foods as frequently. I always had fruit, like bananas and apples, on hand, which was easy to eat alongside a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.

I realize that it was quite a luxury to have access to my parents’ kitchen while I was living in a dorm, but being a college freshman does not mean that you have to succumb to the greasy-foods-for-breakfast-lunch-and-dinner mentality. Gaining weight in college is not inevitable—it’s preventable. Making healthy choices in the dining hall, splurging on occasion (who can resist soft-serve ice cream machines?), and making exercise part of your regular routine can help avoid the dreaded Freshman 15.

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My favorite “dorm room foods” include:

  • whole-grain cereals and breads
  • oatmeal
  • popcorn
  • crackers
  • nuts
  • dark chocolate
  • dried fruit/fruit leathers
  • snack bars (like Lara or Clif bars)
  • almond milk
  • peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt
  • string cheese
  • apples
  • bananas
  • carrots
  • grapes
  • steamable bags of veggies
  • frozen fruit

If you are a college student, how do you make an effort to stay healthy while on campus?

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7 Responses to Avoid the Weight Gain

  1. Leaving for college this past year I told my mom that the only thing I was afraid of was gaining weight. Though that may have been a bit neurotic, I have made eating healthy and exercising priority in my life. I am on a meal plan so I have a bit of a different strategy than you. I make an effort to eat the meals that they make for the night (chicken, roast beef, etc.) and avoid the other things that they have all the time (pizza, burgers). There is also a salad bar and plenty of fresh fruit available. Since I fill up on healthy foods at the dining hall I try not to keep snacks in my dorm room because I eat them when I get bored so I just keep some protein bars for when I’m actually hungry. You’re right though, you don’t have to gain weight in college!!!

  2. While I was in college I joined groups that were physically active. I was an official of volleyball, basketball, and some college intramural football- running was my job! It was basically my job to work out- LOVED IT! I also made healthy food choices and didn’t surround myself with the late night pig out sessions that were around me…. Oh yah, and the ALWAYS, always, ALWAYS have an emergency protein bar!

  3. I wish I would have been smart enough to think of these things when I was in college…but alas, I was not. I treat my desk at my job now like it’s a dorm room though (kinda)! I always have trail mix, clif bars, and dark chocolate stashed in a drawer, greek yogurt in the fridge and green tea bags on stand by. It really helps!

    When I was a college student, I was big into coming home from school and napping immediately. While sleeping is definitely important when you’re rushing from class to class and studying and attempting to have a social life at the same time … I think I would have benefited even from going for a walk before taking a quick nap prior to studying.

    Great post!!

  4. Corrie Anne says:

    Man. I wish my fridge looked like that when I was in college! Mine was full of Diet Coke!! I have learned my lesson since, but I wish I was more interested in being healthy back then — instead of just skinny!

  5. While I was in college, I found that stocking my fridge, dorm room shelves, and backpack with healthy snacks was definitely the way to go! I still do that – although its a pantry vs. dorm room shelves and a purse vs. a backpack these days. Some of my favs include Kellogg’s FiberPlus(R) Cinnamon Oat Crunch cereal, greek yogurt, apples, bananas, peanut butter, grapes, almonds, carrot sticks, sunflower seeds and cheese I’ve sliced up and stored away.

  6. I never lived on campus I commuted and still do. I almost always bring my lunch and snack with me. The cafeteria at both my school is majorly lacking and highly overpriced so not only do I save money, I end up eating healthier.

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