College Food and Weight Increases

Once you go to college, all of a sudden you have significantly greater control over what you eat than you ever had before.  The quality of the food available depends entirely on where you are, and the variety offered often depends on the size of the college, but you can decide how much you want to eat and when you want to eat.  You can even choose to go out, if the school’s options do not suit your palate, and you or someone you know has a car.  So long as you have money in your pocket and in your meal plan, you can keep going back for seconds, and you can even ask friends to pay for you if you run out of meal plan money before the end of the semester or quarter.

The result of this food freedom is what is rather infamously known as the Freshman Fifteen.  Because there is no one watching how much food they eat, whether it be cafeteria food, restaurant food, or even just junk food, freshmen have a very strong tendency to gain weight.  Fifteen does sound good for the sake of alliteration, but the weight increase can be that large or even more.  Alternatively, you might even lose weight.  Still, the Freshman Fifteen is common enough that someone saw fit to give it a name.  Another important factor in the increase that is linked to being a freshman is the increased stress of being away from home.  While everyone does not necessarily miss home as much or even at all, there is a greater amount of stress at being completely away from everything you know and understand.  And an extremely common way to cope with this stress is to eat more.

This weight increase is perfectly common, so there is no reason you should feel uncomfortable or alone.  Just because your friends might stay skinny does not mean that other people are not going through the same thing.  Still, how do you deal with the problem of preventing yourself from gaining that weight?  How do you keep yourself away from the temptation of really good and/or really unhealthy, fattening foods?  First of all, most schools offer meal plans of varying sizes.  By purchasing a smaller meal plan, you can restrict yourself from going and buying that extra dessert with every meal, which would eventually add up.

Additionally, you should try to avail yourself of your school’s resident exercise facilities to work off some of the extra calories.  Despite what everyone may say, if you eat a ton, exercising a ton in turn will not burn all those calories.  It will help, and it will keep you in better shape, but it will not do all the work.  The only way to truly prevent yourself from gaining weight is to not eat more than your body naturally burns a day.  Any extra calories you eat more than your body needs is stored as fat.  If you eat less than what your body burns, then you lose weight.  Diet fads may tell you otherwise, but the only way to really lose weight is to take in fewer calories than your body burns.

Ultimately, it is all about mental discipline.  You may want to sample all of the delectable (or not) dishes your college cafeteria offers, and you may want to treat yourself (often), but you do not need to.  There are far healthier ways to deal with stress than to gorge yourself.  You simply need to estimate how much food is appropriate for yourself a day and make sure that you do not eat any more than that.  You do not have to obsessively count calories so long as you are reasonable about how much you eat.  Chances are that if you feel like your clothes seem to have become too small, then you probably should start eating less.  Of course, if you are perfectly fine with gaining weight, then by all means, eat away.  But if you are worried about losing that perfect figure, just think if you really need to buy extra food just to spend all your meal plan money or if it would not just be better to have a smaller meal plan next time.

Photo credit: Spablab

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