Avoid the Freshman 15

haf1College is a pivotal time in a young adult’s life, but it also can lead to a decline in healthy habits and physical activity. The “freshman 15,” or typical weight gain of a college student, is usually due to a decrease in activity, an increase in unhealthy food choices, stress, and the change in daily routine. Although it seems like a rite of passage to enjoy every single freedom that college brings, it is not an excuse to allow bad habits to take over while healthy habits decline. College can be the perfect time to change for the better.


The first part of staying healthy while away at college is to make wise food choices. Many students take part in the food plan while away at college, and many of the cafeterias offer buffet-style dining where you can choose among a variety of foods. Become familiar with portion sizes, as buffet-styles can allow you to heap your plate full instead of just eating a serving. Be mindful of returning for seconds and try to choose the healthier items available. The best part about buffets is that they offer many options when it comes to salads, low-fat dressings and milk products, whole grain breads, pastas and rice, and grilled vs. fried foods. If you still feel the need to order that pizza for your late-night cram session, opt for healthier choices such as thin crust and veggies. You always have a choice.

Most buildings on campus contain vending machines with an abundance of chips, candy, and soda. Make sure to carry healthy snacks like fruit, pretzels, and water with you to class so you’re not tempted. Research has shown that when eating in groups, we tend to eat more food than when eating alone. It takes your stomach 20 minutes to communicate with your brain that you are full. Take your time when eating. Enjoy the company, chit-chat awhile, and eat more slowly. You’ll become full sooner than you think, and will avoid the late-night stomachache when you have had more food than your stomach can handle. Look into buying a small refrigerator so that you can purchase and store your own healthy favorites to keep handy.


haf2Stress is a big problem in college due to hectic schedules, homework, job schedules, sports practice, being away from home, peer pressures, and other collegiate pressures. Try to set aside time each day just to relax. Do whatever you need to do (read, exercise, listen to music, etc.). There are a lot of new things going on in your life at this time––new adjustments to living on your own or living with people that you’ve never known before. Make sure you take some time just for you. Do not eat food just because you are stressed or bored and have nothing else to do.


Many of us played sports in high school and were typically more active. Many of us do not continue to play those same sports in college. Think about all of the exercise you’ve done on a daily basis during practice that you never once considered as “exercise.” You were training and practicing for the next game, match, or tournament. Staying active is crucial to staying fit during college. Join an intramural sport if you’re not playing on a collegiate team––this is also a great way to meet new people and form lifelong friendships.

Most admission to the gym on campus is free to students, so take advantage of their workout equipment, swimming pool, and classes. You can always purchase a video to use in your dorm room if exercising in a crowd doesn’t appeal to you. Every amount of movement helps, so try to walk around campus instead of taking the shuttle or driving, and take the stairs instead of the elevators in every building.

Create your own healthy college experience simply by trying to make a healthy choice every chance you can. Remember that one of the most important things during your transition to freedom is to keep God’s Word close to your heart. “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil” (Proverbs 4:20-27 NKJV).

Food of the Month: Carrots

haf4Carrots are a member of the parsley family, with feathery, leafy greens and an orange root. Carrots are an excellent source of carotene, fiber, vitamin A, calcium, and folic acid. Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked by boiling, roasting, steaming, sauteing, and grilling. They have a sweet taste and can be eaten as appetizers or added to many dishes. When you select carrots, look for them to be uniform in color from top to bottom, with smooth skin, free of cracks. Dark coloring at the crown of the carrot indicates that they are getting old. Avoid carrots that have begun to sprout, have blemishes or soft spots, or have begun to go limp. Carrots can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month if stored properly. Wrap the carrots in a paper towel and store in a bag in the fridge to avoid excess condensation, which will rot the carrots. If the greens are still attached, cut them off to stop them from drawing out excess moisture. Click here for more great carrot tips and recipe ideas.

By Sherri Houmard

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