COLUMBUS, Miss. – School is back in session and many first-time college students will be faced with having to make lots of new choices, including when to study, how to make new friends and even what to have for dinner.

Most students have heard so much about the dreaded Freshman 15. Is it a myth? Is it a fact? How does an individual avoid it?

Chris Ellis project CHEW (Choose Healthy, Eat Wise) coordinator for the Culinary Arts Institute at Mississippi University for Women offers tips for better health during college and beyond.

“Typically, young adults begin to put on weight their first two years of college and most of that gain seems to be during the first semester of freshman year,” according to Ellis, who added, “There is research on both sides of this issue and some of it seems contradictory, even confusing.”

Ellis said a student’s first soiree into adulthood doesn’t have to include weight gain and offers ways to help one avoid meeting that new friend, the Freshman 15.
Know what triggers your appetite.
o For some, it’s stress. College can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Take breaks regularly when studying. Get up and stretch, go for a short walk, etc. Know when hectic times approach such as mid-terms and finals. Plan ahead and do a little every day in preparation so deadlines don’t pile up. Get to know your professors.
Eat at regular times and watch portion sizes.
o Fill in the gaps between meals with healthy snack choices such as nuts, fruit and veggies rather than going for the chips, dips, candy and ice cream.
Eat slowly.
o It generally takes 20 minutes for an individual’s brain to realize he or she is full. One way to curb binge eating is to time how long it takes to eat a meal. Time yourself, you’ll probably be surprised at how fast you eat. Instead, eat that meal at a slower pace trying to hit a goal of 15-20 minutes.
Eat a rainbow a day.
o When dining cafeteria style or buffet style, it is not necessary to fill one’s plate with food. An individual can go back if they are still hungry. Start small, eat slowly. Also, remember your plate is a blank canvas. Paint it with all colors, focusing heavily on fruits and vegetables. Eat more colorful foods and less of the white stuff – pastas, potatoes, etc.
Don’t eat in front of the television, while studying, or while lying in bed.
o Where and how a person eats are important things to consider. If it’s going to take up to 20 minutes for your brain to know you have eaten enough to satisfy your hunger, enjoy the 20 minutes. Put the phone down, enjoy the break and the food.
Avoid vending machines and fast food as much as possible.
o Yes, it’s cheap and convenient, but this is one of the fastest ways to put weight on and that’s not the goal. Stay away from those as much as possible.
Drop the soda.
o Fizzy pop drinks are full of sugar and calories. Get a water bottle and take it everywhere. Here on campus, there are water fountains in every building and filling your bottle is free. Who doesn’t like free items?
Be mindful of alcohol consumption.
o No sense in avoiding this topic. Many students consume alcohol for the first time at college because they are away from watchful eyes of the parental types. Not only does alcohol lower inhibitions – it’s full of empty calories. This is one area where weight gain can sneaks up on individuals. Students who want to avoid the Freshman 15, are encouraged to drink legally, responsibly, in moderation or not at all. On a 2,000 calorie diet, a six pack of craft beer can eat up many of those calories. Spend those calories on nutrient dense foods. They don’t call it a “beer belly” for nothing.
Get plugged in.
o Have the time of your life while on campus. Join a social club, get involved with intramural sports or start a new fitness class. College campuses always have something taking place. Getting involved should be easy.
Get some sleep!
o Everyone needs to rest and recharge, more so than the phones so many individuals are attached to. Keep a regular sleep schedule. Naps are great, but they are no substitute for a good night’s rest. Avoid caffeine at night and turn the electronics off. Over stimulation just before bed can cause problems trying to go to sleep.



Aug. 31, 2015